September 16, 2020 – By SUSAN MINUK
Marvin Gord will not only celebrate his 100th birthday on Dec. 31, but plans to gift $1 million to Baycrest Health Sciences Centre – one step at a time.
“Marvin’s Million” was born on July 1, and Gord is determined to walk one million steps by his milestone birthday, raising a dollar for each stride.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have all joined in cheering Gord on.
With his trusted walker, Gord has, to date, walked nearly 600,000 steps, raising $67,000. He estimates he will complete between 500 and 750 kilometers by his birthday.
He was inspired by English war veteran Tom Moore, who raised money this summer by walking around his garden with the aid of a walker for his 100th birthday.
“If he could do that,” said Gord, “I could raise $1 million for Baycrest.”
Gord has a long history with the health care facility. His grandmother, Yenta Maldover, sat on the Ezras Noshem Society committee that founded Baycrest’s predecessor, the Toronto Jewish Old Folks Home on Cecil Street in downtown Toronto.
His mother, Eva Brownstone, volunteered for many years and was later a resident in Baycrest’s Apotex Centre. His wife, Nancy Gord, entered Baycrest’s palliative care and died in 2015. Gord himself volunteered for Baycrest’s Brain Project memory clinic research.
He’s walked for years, averaging 3.5 miles a day since surviving a heart attack in 1980.
“No matter what, I walk 20 miles a week,” he said. “If it’s not a nice day, I’ll go to one of the malls. It doesn’t matter whether I want to or not, I do it.”
It wasn’t until age 97 that he started to use a walker. Gord challenges the community to walk with him. “But you have to keep up,” he said with a laugh.
Many young people have answered the call.
This summer, counselors-in-training at Camp Manitou in Parry Sound, Ont. became “Marvin buddies,” walking virtually with Gord, said Rafi Yablonsky, manager of major gifts and donor development at the Baycrest Foundation.
Students at Upper Canada College have also created a “Marvin page” to help raise awareness and money, Yablonsky noted.
Gord’s life is rich. He has three daughters, nine grandchildren and seven-great-grandchildren, with an eighth on the way in Israel. He’s an avid reader who combs newspapers’ financial pages, and instructed the CJR to “sign me up” if the website ever goes to print.
Born in Toronto, Gord was a radar specialist during the Second World War, serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force in England, Africa, and Italy.
After the war, he studied at the University of Toronto and became a pharmacist. A dozen or so years later, he returned to U of T for a psychology degree, and then, at age 60, earned a law degree.
On top of that, he became a finance and human resource professor, and at 83, completed the Canadian Securities Course.
Asked the secret to his longevity Gord said, with a straight face, “one shot of Johnnie Walker Black once a day.” He added: “I have no sugar and no salt in my diet and lots of fiber. It’s the way I live.”
About turning 100, Gord asked, “What’s the big deal? When I turn 110, that will be a big deal.”
“Marvin is an incredible man,” said Josh Cooper, president and CEO of the Baycrest Foundation “At 99, he is what we call at Baycrest a super senior.”
Gord’s donation will benefit Baycrest’s Safeguarding Our Seniors campaign, designed to fund protective measures and medical equipment needed for residents, patients and staff, as well as older adults visiting the facility’s doctors.
Donations can be made at marvinsmillion.com.