Meet 101-year-old Orpha Thrasher. She wants to run two kilometers for charity in Guelph, Ontario.

Orpha Thrasher plans to run two kilometers for charity this year.  (Hala Ghonaim/CBC - photo credit)

Orpha Thrasher plans to run two kilometers for charity this year. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC – photo credit)

Orpha Thrasher hopes to raise money with every step she takes on Saturday.

The 101-year-old woman from Guelph will attend this year’s Coldest Night of the Year benefit.

It is a walkathon in which groups walk two or five kilometers along a predetermined route. Thrasher is the captain of Team Orpha and hopes to raise $3,000 by the end of her two kilometer walk.

This year’s walk starts at Hope House on Cork Street in Guelph and runs through the area from Wyndham Street to Woolwich Street, then back from London Street and Paisley Street to the finish line in Cork Street.

John Collins, Hope House’s Community Engagement Manager, said Thrasher was the oldest competitor they had for the walkathon.

“She is a tremendous inspiration. She is unbelievable. It’s our top ten fundraiser,” Collins said. “It shows you that you are never too old to make a difference. I think that’s what Orpha represents for us.”

Collins went on to say that Thrasher’s impact has been more than inspirational.

“She’s become quite a local celebrity. You’ll see complete strangers approaching you just to introduce themselves and get to know you better,” he said. “She raised a lot of money for us … and it’s helping so many in our community in need.”

Paula Duhatschek/CBC

Paula Duhatschek/CBC

Thrasher isn’t new to fundraising.

Her walk for charity helped raise $22,000 for the coldest night of the year in 2022.

She said her success has inspired a handful of people, like her eldest daughter, to be more active.

“She didn’t walk much,” Thrasher said. “But she’s starting to walk more and she’s going to what, 76? 77? So imagine if you had a daughter that old.”

She said it’s important to keep moving.

“Eventually, if you’re not active enough, if you don’t start being active, you’re going to lose it completely. And when you’re maybe 20 years less than 100 years old, you just aren’t anymore. You don’t. You’re not keeping yourself alive.”

safety on ice

John Collins says Orpha Thrasher took precautions to ensure her safety, such as going for walks indoors on freezing days.

“She is surrounded by good people. She will be with her daughter and other family members and friends who will help her along the way. She walks with a cane, so she also has that extra measure of safety.”

Thrasher said she walked thirty minutes each day to train for Saturday’s charity walk.

“Actually addictive,” she said with a giggle. “As long as my knees and my hips are okay, I intend to do it for as long as I can.”

She plans to start her walk around 5:15 p.m. Saturday with her nine teammates.


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