PRESS RELEASES Harry's Canada Walk.
The Independent - article by John Campbell Nov. 23, 2005
Stroke victim making his way across Canada,
Inspired by Terry Fox, retired businessman aims to raise $35,000 and awareness.
By John Campbell
Harry Heydon is making his way across Canada. He's walked more than 3,300 kms and is
still no farther from his home east of Hastings than he was when he started his trek
18 months ago.
The 66 year old retired businessman began walking, and keeping track of how many kilometres
he covered, 10 days after he suffered the first in a series of strokes that struck him
within a week in the spring of 2004.
The first stroke, on May 1, 2004, left him feeling numb on his right side, and unable to
speak clearly. The symptoms passed but they returned two days later. He had three more
strokes before his "week of hell" ended.
"It really set me back," Mr. Heydon says. The temporary memory loss "scared me more than
He couldn't run a program he had designed for his home computer business, and he
struggled to balance three cheques.
"It was scary" his wife Mary says.
Although the strokes didn't leave him incapacitated for long, they forced him to retire two
years before he intended and led him to change his lifestyle. He cut red meat largely out of
his diet, began eating less, went from drinking a lot of pop to water only - and started
walking Dunlay Road. At first it was down one side of the hill on which his house sits and
then back up.
"I had a heckuva time." he says. "It's a tough hill. I've seen young people stop to get their
breath it's that steep."
But Mr. Heydon wasn't about to let geography get in the way of rebuilding his health.
An outfielder with the O.A.S.A. 5 time Sr. B Ontario champions Oshawa Gale Lumber fastball team,
he also played in the 1st Canada Summer Games with Oshawa Tonys, winners of a silver medal.
He played many sports as a young man, including football, basketball and hockey. He
continued to play fastball into his 50s, against men 30 years younger, before he switched to
three pitch. Bad knees and hips finally made him quit, but they weren't going to stop him
from walking. Especially after his doctor had given him a choice: Either walk more than he
was doing or increase his medications to keep his diabetes and blood pressure under control.
"It was a no-brainer," he says. He went from one four km walk a day to two, once in the morning
and another in the afternoon, seven days a week. He's braved fierce winds, stinging rain, and
icy roads (with the help of overshoes fitted with special cleats).
By the time he had walked 2,500 kms, he began to wonder if there was "something" he could do to
give what he was doing significance beyond his personal well-being. He found inspiration in
"I just loved the guy and what he did," he says.
He decided to follow in the Canadian icon's footsteps by walking - virtually - from St. John's
Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. and invite donations for a worthwhile cause. He chose the Heart
and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. If as many as 500 people contribute a penny for each of the
7,349 kms he intends to walk by April 2007, he will surpass his goal of $35,000.
"We think it's absolutely fabulous" that Mr. Heydon has linked up with the Foundation, says
Cindy Bartoli, program coordinator for the organization's Peterborough area. "Harry is a
wonderful ambassador," not only for raising money but also by demonstrating "the incredible
benefits of walking."
Since he began walking and changed his diet, Mr. Heydon has lost 30 lbs and lowered his blood
pressure and blood sugar levels.
He has one other lesson to pass on to others who suffer a stroke. Go to the hospital as soon as
the symptoms appear. He didn't and now considers himself fortunate.
"You don't know how severe it is," he says.
It wasn't until he saw a television documentary weeks after his strokes that he learned that
70 percent of people who went through what he had "are dead within a year."
"That straightened me out right there," he says.
To learn more about his Canada Walk, visit Mr. Heydon's website, www.heydon.com.
Harry on one of his daily walks.
Photos on this page by John Campbell
Click here to return to Harry's Canada Walk