95-year-old Dr. Douglas MacEwan has always loved the performing arts, and now he's on a mission to walk and raise money to keep them thriving for years.
During a media event, Dr. MacEwan invited his children and directors of Winnipeg's performing arts to join him on a kilometer walk, part of a 96-day walking campaign to raise $96,000.
Dr. MacEwan says, "Having a thriving arts community is a good sign of a wonderful place to live."
Since the pandemic hit, all shows and events had to be canceled due to the close proximity of the crowds. This is true for the ballet, orchestra, opera, and theatre.
However, as a lover of the arts, Dr. MacEwan is working towards keeping them alive.
The money raised is going toward four performing arts organizations, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Opera, and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
Dr. MacEwan's son and daughter were at the morning event on September 15 and spoke on behalf of their father's love of the local arts.
"The important thing about all this is raising money for the arts," says the doctor.
The walking started for Dr. MacEwan after a donor, who wished to remain anonymous, sent him a letter. It stated that if the 95-year-old walked every day up until his 96th birthday, he would donate $500 a day to the charity of his choice. The donor mentioned he'd double it if MacEwan could find another person to join the walk each day.
The total amount, walking each day with another person, is $96,000. The donor shared he'd top it up to $100,000 if MacEwan is successful, meaning $25,000 will be split evenly between the four art organizations.
He's roughly halfway through the walking campaign with exactly eight weeks left until he celebrates his 96 birthday, on November 11, at which time the donor will hand him the money.
"The art groups are very strong in Winnipeg and I've enjoyed them ever since coming here."
Born in Ottawa, Dr. MacEwan moved to Winnipeg in 1966 to work at the HSC and the University of Manitoba. He's also a WWII veteran.
The Artistic Director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Kelly Thornton, was at the media event Tuesday morning and walked the kilometer with the doctor.
She says, "It's people like you that make this city and this province so great. Thank you."
The Artistic Director of The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, André Lewis, says, "I have known Dr. MacEwan for many, many years. What I remember most in our school is that he was such a great supporter. Over 20 of our aspirants were fortunate to be supported by you, in order to become professional artists."
Lewis joined the walk, as well as the General Director of Manitoba Opera, Larry Desrochers, and Julian Pellicano who is the Associate Conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
His daughter Eleanor, who spoke during the media event, says she is assembling a book to commemorate the project.