ERIC Thorne’s stamina will be tested later this year when he hikes up to 900km west from France to the edge of Spain along the Camino Frances.
While the 83-year-old has done the arduous track twice before, this time it will be for a reason other than to challenge himself.
The Ormiston man will use the pilgrimage along the trail, also known as the Way of Saint James, to raise funds and awareness for his physically disabled 11-year-old grandson Samuel Thorne, of Logan.
Samuel’s body was left paralysed more than a year ago after he contracted a neurological condition called transverse myelitis.
Mr Thorne said he hoped to raise international attention to Samuel’s plight by talking with and handing out Campaign for Samuel flyers to those he passed by.
Just like those who wandered the terrain towards the edge of the known world for salvation from the 8th century onwards, Mr Thorne is hoping for a miracle for his grandson through the generous donations from others.
With the information ready for print, tickets booked and his itinerary already arranged, all Mr Thorne needs to do now is build up his fitness.
While he said he had the heart of a man two decades younger, Mr Thorne is set to begin a rigorous five-month training schedule from April to improve his cardio-vascular health.
His conditioning program will start with daily 20km walks in the Redlands, progress to slope climbs and descents and then include the addition of a weighted backpack for muscle strengthening.
Preparation is important because Mr Thorne’s goal is to average 20km a day, which he said should get him to the Camino Frances finish line after about a month-and-a-half.
“Because of my tender age of 83, I have to look after my body so I can get it home back here,” Mr Thorne said.
“It is my intention to be walking from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France, over the Pyranees, to Santiago de Compostela and then to Finisterre, which is the end of the world and that is a total of 890km,” Mr Thorne said.
“I hope to be able to do that in 42 days.”
Mr Thorne has secured sponsorships from Wagners in Toowoomba, Heritage Bank and from four pilgrims he met when he did the trail on a previous occasion in 2009. He has also approached Coco-Cola for help.
To help Mr Thorne raise funds for his grandson, visit Samuel Thorne’s page at givenow.com.au/samuelthorne.
To find out more about Campaign for Samuel, visit here.