This Canada Day, long-time Defeat Duchenne Canada volunteer Harry Norris will complete his goal of walking across Canada – without leaving his hometown of Mitchell, Ontario. Beginning in March 2020, the 76-year-old retired school principal started a journey that saw him walk more than 8,200 kilometres – a distance that would take him coast to coast. Walking daily for 475 straight days, Harry’s only tools were a Fitbit watch, three well-worn pairs of shoes, and the support of his family and friends.
Harry started walking after double bypass surgery in 1994 at the age of 48. He walked up to five miles every day and created a sign to inspire him during his recovery: “Easier SED than done” (standing for stress, exercise and diet). Shortly after, his surgery heard about a father, John Davidson, pushing his son, Jesse, in his wheelchair across Ontario to raise funds and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He followed the story throughout 1995, but it wasn’t until one serendipitous day when John came to speak at Harry’s church that he knew he wanted to join the mission to defeat Duchenne.
Harry and two friends decided to take a trip out west and met John on the road during his 1998 walk across Canada. The four men walked together for four days during the chilly mid-December temperatures in Strathmore, Alberta, while family and friends gathered donations from back home. After the holidays, Harry knew he had to celebrate John as he crossed the finish line, so off he flew to Victoria, British Columbia, walk alongside John during his final four days.
“If you join this group of people, you can feel the magic,”Harry Norris, Volunteer
Since then, Harry and John have conducted more than 30 awareness events in local schools across Southwestern Ontario. He joined the Board of Directors in 2006, and he and his wife, Barb, have helped with countless fundraising events, including the Walk to Defeat Duchenne year after year.
Harry is an inspiration, valued supporter, true friend. Thank you, Harry, for everything that you do on behalf of Defeat Duchenne Canada.
Learn more about Harry’s walk across Canada from the Owen Sound Sun-Times article.