There are no bad days for London's Bob Facca.
The 65-year-old knows no matter how bad or how tired he feels, there are people worse off. And one of them is his six-year-old grandson Louie, who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy three years ago.
"He's still okay, he can walk now," said 'Grandpa Bob.' "But it's one of those progressive diseases where the muscles get weaker and weaker daily – until we can find a treatment where we can stop the progression. That's what we're hoping for."
When Louie was diagnosed with Duchenne MS, a family member contacted John Davidson, who had spearheaded Jesse's Journey, which raised more than $1.5 million. Davidson visited the next day offering support and advice.
"When my son found out, when it first hit him, he was devastated," said Facca. "It's just like anything. In you're mind, you're son's going down this road, then all of a sudden he's going down that road. And there's two things you can do."
He said the family could either "go in a hole and do nothing" or become proactive.
"So they chose to be proactive. They came up with a saying, 'No Bad Days.' No matter how bad it is, there's no bad days because there's always somebody worse off than you are."
They started raising money for Jesse's Journey, which focuses on Duchenne MS. In 2012 'Grandpa Bob' decided to take it to another level with a 500-km fundraising walk. He started training by walking 4-5 times per week.
"I walked 500 kilometres a couple years ago and we raised about $250,000. That was all earmarked for research. When we finished that walk we said 'hey, we've got to do more.' It's like John's (Davidson) saying 'I'm not here to buy a wheelchair, I'm here to find a cure, a treatment.'"
Feeling pretty good after the 500 km walk, Facca knew he could do more, so they started planning a 2014 walk.
"I'm doing 4,000 km this time because I'm trying to raise more awareness and make more money for research."
He started in Quebec City on May 12. Heading west into Ontario they made stops in Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls. They reached Woodstock last week, and on Saturday afternoon they arrived in Tillsonburg.
His 4,038 km walk – at a rate of about 20-25 km per day – continued Sunday to Aylmer, Monday to St. Thomas and then to London. His southwestern push ends in Windsor, then it's north to Sarnia, up and around Lake Huron and Lake Superior, and west to finish in Winnipeg Dec. 9, 2014.
"When it's balmy," Facca laughed. "Balmy and sunny Winnipeg... it's like the old saying, 'no pain, no gain.'"
There was light rain Saturday morning as he walked into Tillsonburg escorted by Courtland firefighters from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Services, Station 6. They met a contingent of Tillsonburg Fire and Rescue Services firefighers and trucks, including Tillsonburg Firefighter's Association antique firetruck, at Norfolk Mall and walked together to the town limits.
"We put out feelers to all the fire departments and made some contacts that way," said Rick Sinclair, Facca's co-road manager. "But it seems like the big thing was about a month-and-a-half to two months ago, the fire chiefs had a conference (in Toronto) and John Davidson was one of the guest speakers. He got a standing ovation... and since then it's been a constant thing. They've been more than helpful, especially the smalltown fire departments."
"They're saying, 'Bob, if you're doing that, we can afford to do one day,'" said Facca. "You look at what kind of day this is... and these volunteers, they took the time to come and help us. They're walking with us – and they gave us a donation."
Escorted by Tillsonburg Fire and Rescue Services, Facca's walk took him to the Tillsonburg Metro parking lot on Broadway where they had a fundraising barbecue from 4-6 p.m. sponsored by the Delhi-LaSalette Knights of Columbus to help raise awareness Duchenne muscular dystrophy and funds for research.
Grandpa Bob's 4,000 Kilometre Walk for Louie so far has raised more than $500,000. For more information and online updates, see http://www.jessesjourney.com/events/grandpa-bobs-2014-walk-for-louie.aspx.