Student walks 100km, raises $11,000 for hospitals in year-long challenge

FERGUS – If generosity starts with a single step, satisfaction comes from completing a goal, says Rajvir Khanuja. 

The 17-year-old had set a goal for himself in 2023:  to walk 10km on every long weekend in the year to raise funds for local hospitals.

He completed that goal on New Year’s Day this year, raising a total $11,000 in 2023.

Groves Memorial Community Hospital was one of the recipients. 

Rajvir donated $1,000 to the hospital’s foundation last June.

His father is a dentist – Dr. Raj Khanuja – and the younger Khanuja chose hospitals in cities and towns where his father has clinics.

Dr. Raj, as he’s known by his patients, offers one day of free dental care at each of his clinics in a given year, and that generosity very much motivated Rajvir in his own selfless quest.

But even more than that, he was grateful to all the health care professionals who treated and saved his grandfather, who got COVID-19 early in the pandemic when the disease was still mysterious and unknown.

Rajvir wanted to show his gratitude in a concrete way.

He was often joined by friends and family on the walks and that proved to be a new and enjoyable way for the family to spend time together on long weekends. They’d often go for lunch before they headed home.

Rajvir walked in neighbourhoods or on trails near the hospitals, so sometimes the walks also involved a drive, turning them into day-long events. 

He said it usually took a couple of hours to walk 10km.

His big takeaways from a year of fundraising are:

  • do not take your heath for granted or the people who provide health care;
  • walking outdoors in the fresh air feels good and it is good exercise that can improve performance in other endeavours; and
  • completing a goal feels good and it can be inspiring to others.

“It takes courage, commitment and discipline to complete a goal,” said Dr. Raj. “He pushed hard to do it. When you do that, it makes you a better person.”

Rajvir’s journey also inspired his sister Rajsi to try something similar. 

She’s working out the logistics of holding a tree-planting campaign to be done on long weekends to help the environment.

“This has been one of the best things for our family,” said Dr. Raj. 

“It brought us closer together. Getting fresh oxygen is good for us. And now planting trees. They will help sustain life year after year.”