Around the World in $80,000

Seniors walking, pedalling and wheeling to raise money, earn virtual travel experiences

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The 100 residents at Misericordia Place are travelling around the world in the middle of a global pandemic — without ever leaving the safety of their personal care home.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/04/2021 (484 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The 100 residents at Misericordia Place are travelling around the world in the middle of a global pandemic — without ever leaving the safety of their personal care home.

They aren’t letting COVID-19 travel restrictions slow them down as they virtually wander the globe as part of Misericordia Health Centre Foundation’s Around The World in 80 Days campaign to raise funds for therapy and recreation equipment.

The residents were asked to pick a dream destination and then spend 80 days — from March 2 to May 20 — walking, pedalling, wheeling and taking part in exercise therapy to rack up kilometres — and donations — on their virtual around-the-world adventures.

SUPPLIED Geraldine Anderson, 85, a resident at Misericordia Place personal care home who loves polar bears and the Free Press. Every day, Geraldine delivers the Free Press to the residents on her floor, and now her steps are counting towards their Around the World in 80 Days fundraiser.

It’s hoped that, together, they’ll be able to travel 40,000 kilometres — the distance required to circle the globe — but the real goal is to get the residents moving and inspire donors to contribute to their journeys online at misericordiafoundation.com.

Mobility issues mean not every resident can hop on an exercise bike, but all the virtual journeys are supplemented with online excursions, FaceTime visits and activities like painting or travel-themed parties.

“Exercise plays such an important role in residents’ physical and mental health,” Jennifer Klos, Misericordia’s recreation services manager, said. “With COVID-19 precautions, including visitor restrictions, we had to come up with a creative way to motivate residents to participate in activities. Residents were chatting about missing family in other parts of the world and it was a eureka moment for me! I thought, ‘Let’s get everyone to travel to virtual dream destinations!’

“The Around the World in 80 Days journey so far has been filled with delightful moments. It’s hard to describe. We’ve tracked down old army buddies to come in and visit an Armed Forces veteran, we hosted a Hawaiian luau and have traced family members back to Germany in the First World War. These are all special experiences linked to their travel destinations that our residents won’t forget any time soon.”

Heidi Klaschka, Misericordia’s director of communications, said the idea is for donors grounded by pandemic restrictions to live vicariously through the resident’s around-the-world adventures and to help them reach their exotic destinations by donating.

The goal is to raise $80,000 — $1,000 for each day of the campaign — with Winnipeg Canadian Tire retailers matching donations up to $40,000.

One resident, Susan Lemoine, dreamed of being on a beach in Honolulu, so recreation facilitator Rael Kulchycki arranged a luau for her floor, while resident Hugh McMeel wanted to return to where he was born, Northern Ireland.

“On St. Patrick’s Day, he enjoyed a Guinness and he FaceTimed a family in Dublin and got a view of the Irish Sea, and nine-year-old twins dressed as Leprechauns wished him happy St. Patrick’s Day in Gaelic and English,” Klaschka said.

Resident Geraldine Anderson, 85, has been living the dream of getting up close and personal with polar bears in Canada’s Arctic. Geraldine’s room is a shrine to the massive creatures — festooned with photos, stuffed toys, coffee mugs, blankets, and all things polar bear.

“I’ve got polar bear earrings,” she boasted this week, dressed proudly in her polar bear sweatshirt. “They are an incredible animal. They are a gift from God. They are lovable.”

A highlight of Geraldine’s trip of a lifetime has been a FaceTime chat with Star, one of the polar bears at Assiniboine Park, and her human keeper. “My feet haven’t touched the ground since,” the polar bear buff declared.

“It was like winning the lottery. I got to see Star and her trainer. I asked if I could bring her back here, but they wouldn’t let me. I was just super excited.”

While limited mobility means she won’t physically visit the Arctic, Geraldine has been racking up kilometres towards her virtual dream with a special form of exercise — every morning since the pandemic began, she uses her walker to deliver copies of the Free Press to other residents on her floor.

“I’ve been reading the Free Press since I was eight years old,” the bubbly resident bragged to a nosy columnist. “If I wanted it, I had to babysit and pay for it. And I did.”

An upbeat force of nature, her daily paper route requires a few special precautions. “I have to wear a mask and rubber gloves and I have to wash my hands after,” Geraldine said with obvious pride.

“Do you know what my pay is? A small glass of orange juice Monday to Friday. On Saturday, I get a double because it’s a double paper. On holidays, I put a notice on my door: ‘No paper!’ It’s nice delivering the paper.

“Some people here don’t have much contact with others. It’s more personal. In the morning they laugh at me when I go in and say, ‘Good morning! Free Press!

“It’s just a way for me to give back. I love it. My son was a Free Press carrier and I delivered with him when he was young. That’s history right there.”

Geraldine said she hopes Free Press readers support the Around the World in 80 Days campaign and remember that donations are a lot like her beloved polar bears, the bigger the better.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

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