Zack Downey cuts a dashing figure in his Victoria Mariners jersey in this 2013 photo. The young Langford resident died of cancer in 2014 and will be remembered during the fifth and final Moving Mountains fundraiser on Nov. 18. (Colette Hopkins Photography)

Hike raises funds for families battling lymphoma

Moving Mountains also a tribute to Langford teen Zack Downey

Every year around mid-November, Shane Flamand is hit with a wave of emotion.

Traversing the steep slopes and rocky terrain of the three largest peaks in Greater Victoria as part of the Moving Mountains fundraiser brings back memories of Flamand’s nephew, Zack Downey, who lost his 18-month battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2014.

Flamand remembers coaching Zack’s baseball team and that he was a courageous, talented teenager with a passion for sport. Above all, he remembers Zack’s unfaltering spirit in his final months.

“He was like a son to me,” Flamand said. “He took it like a champ the whole way through. Whenever he was going through treatments, you’d never know it because he always had a smile on his face. He always had hope.”

Now, Flamand is getting set to remember Zack again and participate in the fifth and final Moving Mountains fundraiser this month. As part of the event, Flamand along with roughly 20 other hikers, will cover 27 kilometres through Mount Finlayson, Jocelyn Hill and Mount Work over a 10 to 12 hour period.

RELATED: A courageous young man is remembered

It’s a fundraiser the Langford resident and avid hiker originally started in 2013 to raise funds to help Zack and his family, but since his passing, has turned into a tribute for Zack and fundraiser for families with children battling lymphoma.

The Shared Hope Society, which Flamand is the vice president of, chooses the recipients. In addition to the annual hike, Flamand also organizes weekly hikes through East Sooke Park, Mount Wells and around Thetis Lake to raise funds for various families. In recent years, they’ve raised thousands of dollars for about 20 families in Greater Victoria.

Over the last three years since Zack’s passing, the hike has helped Flamand heal, but now, he’s ready to let go and move on.

“There’s that great feeling knowing that you’re able to help some of these families, but it’s also very difficult because it brings up a world of emotions every time you hike,” Flamand said. “For me, a part of the healing is to move forward. It brings up a world of emotions that I’m ready to put behind me. Just a heartfelt thank you to all that have helped out along this journey.”

Funds raised this year will go towards providing financial support to a self-employed single mother raising two boys, including a 13-year-old who is battling lymphoma.

Moving Mountains takes place on Saturday, Nov. 18. For more information, visit Shared Hope Society on Facebook.

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