Daryl Bonar is not one to back down from a tough challenge.
As a 13-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, he did two tours of Bosnia during the horrific Bosnian War (1992 to 1995).
He also participated in the Canadian Death Race — an intense, one-day, 125-km run that passes through three separate mountain summits in Alberta.
His latest challenge is no less grueling — running 300 km, from Calgary to Edmonton, in six days — but the passion he feels for the cause he is drawing attention to keeps him thoroughly motivated, he said.
“I believe in fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves,” Bonar said, near the halfway point of his Alberta’s Sprint for Kids, a fundraising and awareness campaign for Edmonton’s Youth Emergency Shelter Society’s Homeless for a Night fundraising event.
“Youth at-risk are the most vulnerable kids there are,” Bonar said.
“I’ve worked with at-risk youth for five or six now and the common denominator is that these kids aren’t given a fighting chance out of the gate.”
Bonar, who is also the Wildrose Alliance candidate in his native Edmonton, said in addition to running a marathon-and-a-half a day, he’s been stopping in communities such as Airdrie, Crossfield, Carstairs, Olds, Bowden and Innisfail during the Sprint For Kids to draw attention to the issue of youth homelessness in Alberta.
He said the event is in no way a political ploy to raise interest in him as a candidate, however.
“This issue transcends all partisan politics; I’ve been advocating for at-risk youth long before I got involved in politics, and I’ll be doing it long after,” Bonar said.
Bonar plans on finishing Alberta’s Sprint for Kids at Telus Field in Edmonton on May 27, in conjunction with the shelter society’s Homeless for a Night fundraising event.
The event has participants camp under the stars for one night and raises funds and awareness for at-risk youth and the programs provided by shelter society.
“The shelters do angelic work, in that they give these kids a lifeline — they’re able to diagnose mental health disorders,” Bonar said.
“And they also give these kids other options besides crime and prostitution, and prevent them from being further victimized.”
For Bonar, the temporary pain from running more than 60 km per day is a small price to pay if he can help Alberta’s at-risk youth.
“I anticipated the blisters, the stiffness, the soreness, the dehydration — those are all things I was able to foresee,” Bonar said.
“I had no way of anticipating how my body would react to running this many days in a row, I’m sort of walking into the unknown.”
What he does know, he said, is the cause he is running for is related to many of the social problems that are endemic in Canadian society.
“No one wakes up a drug addict or a prostitute. They get there somehow, some way, and it almost always starts in adolescence.”
To donate to Bonar’s run or the shelter society’s Homeless for a Night event, visit yess.org.