A GREAT-GRANDAD from Coventry who has had a quadruple heart bypass has smashed his target to walk ten miles a day this year for charity as he hits the halfway point of his challenge.
Tony Cunningham, 72, has already clocked 2,500 miles during his morning laps around Memorial Park and has raised more than £4,500 for Warwick children’s charity Molly Olly’s.
He hasn’t missed a single 5am start and is currently 450 miles over his initial halfway target.
He is on target to cover the distance between Coventry and Detroit by the time he completes his last walk on New Year’s Eve and has lost more than a stone in weight since first beginning the challenge.
Tony underwent life-saving heart surgery four years ago and this challenge has helped him to recover his fitness.
He said: “It’s been tiring and hard going at times.
“I sit down on benches whenever I need to recharge my batteries and I’ve managed to tailor the route as much as possible to avoid hills.”
He has been spurred on during his walks by the memory of Jackie, his wife of 47 years who died of cancer last year.
“I feel she is with me in spirit and she’d be cheering me on while still telling me I’m mad,” said Tony.
“I think it has surprised a lot of people that I’ve kept it up but this is all about the charity and I’m determined to see it through.”
Molly Olly’s supports children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses and their families by donating wishes, therapeutic toys and books to young people and hospitals across the country.
Tony lost twins during his first marriage, aged just 21, with one stillborn and the other died in his arms on the way to the hospital.
“Even though it was 50 years ago that torments me to this day,” he said. “There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about that.
“While walking recently I met three mums whose children had wishes granted by Molly Olly’s.
“They approached me when they saw the branded bib I was wearing.
“It was quite emotional but gives you a big lift and reminds you, when you have a bad day, why you’re doing it.”
Visit justgiving.com/fundraising/anthony- cunningham5/ to sponsor Tony.