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Oak Bay veteran, now 102, takes on new fundraising challenge

John Hillman got a good start on his 102-lap goal on Monday despite the heat wave, completing five laps
Resident Joanne Atkins offers a cool mist to 102-year-old John Hillman on the second day of his effort to complete 102 laps around the courtyard of Carlton Place in Oak Bay to raise money for Save the Children. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Amid record-breaking temperatures, 102-year-old John Hillman, in dress shirt and tie, walked five laps of the courtyard of his Oak Bay retirement home on Monday morning.

Last year, Hillman made headlines as he walked 101 laps — plus a victory lap — outside ­Carlton House to raise $101,000 for Save the Children. He smashed his goal within days and eventually raised $166,551.

This year, Hillman hopes to complete 102 laps to raise at least $102,000 for the same charity.

The Second World War veteran planned to do 10 laps on Monday in his uniform but was cautioned by staff to make it two laps because of the extreme heat. At 10 a.m. Monday, the temperature at Gonzales weather station was 33.4 C.

Instead of wearing his uniform, Hillman started out on his route at 9 a.m. in a shirt, tie, suspenders and dress pants. He completed five laps. It takes him about one minute per lap.

Jamille Morrison, wellness manager for Carlton House, said Hillman was in good form and “seemed like he could have kept going but it’s very good he didn’t — he wasn’t visibly sweating or struggling at all.”

He was buoyed by remarkably good physical and mental health, determination and support from those gathered, she said.

The centenarian was inspired last year by the story of Capt. Tom Moore, a 100-year-old Second World War veteran who raised $55 million for the U.K.’s National Health Service.

Mary Louise Meadow, a fellow resident of the home and friend of Hillman’s, recalled last year that the idea surfaced in a conversation she had with Hillman over coffee one morning after residents had begun isolating in their rooms for much of the day.

Hillman noticed that Moore was a bearer of the Burma Star, just like him. That sparked the idea of the fundraiser, Meadow said.

His daily laps brightened the atmosphere inside the home and gave residents something positive to focus on amid pandemic restrictions.

Hillman, who was resting mid‑morning Monday and ­unavailable for an interview, is expected to be back on his route today at 9 a.m.

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> John Hillman is collecting donations for Save the Children. His fundraising page is