Canadian 'gitchhiker' completes cross-country charity trip in only his underwear
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012 8:54AM EST
People have bicycled, walked, even roller-bladed across Canada for charity. But Mark McIntyre is likely the only person who has ever hitch-hiked across Canada wearing nothing but his underwear and a smile -- all in a bizarre attempt to raise money for a good cause.
After setting out from Vancouver on Nov. 14, the so-called "gitchhiker" arrived in Truro, N.S. on Tuesday, ending his three-week cross-country adventure to raise money for men's cancer research.
The trip was sponsored by the Truro-based Stanfield's, which had offered to donate $20,000 if McIntyre made it all the way to the company’s flagship factory -- in only his underwear, of course.
Along the way McIntyre collected additional donations and, at the last minute, Stanfield's upped their donation to $27,000, bringing the final tally to more than $30,000.
"Every single Canadian has two things in common: they're awesome and they have a cancer story -- maybe not necessarily directly related to themselves, but a family member or someone who is close to them. So I sat in cars and talked to people and laughed and cried and talked about people's relationship to this disease," McIntyre told CTV's Canada AM Wednesday.
While McIntyre admits many motorists had a tendency to speed up when they saw a grown man standing on the side of the road wearing nothing but his briefs, others were curious about his journey and wanted to know more.
"They would pull over to see what was going on. And I would explain that I was hitchhiking across the country and that Stanfield's would give me $20,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society," he said. "And then they'd be like 'oh, ok,' and they'd pick me up or donate or maybe give me a hug or a thumbs up. Canadians have been pretty amazing."
While the goal of McIntyre's unusual trek was to raise money and awareness for cancer research, he was specifically focused on what has been called "below the waist" cancer in men -- prostate, testicular and colorectal cancer.
A cancer survivor himself, McIntyre said the cause was close to his heart.
"Five years ago I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and it was a tough pill to swallow. But it was caught early and with early detection testicular cancer is really, really curable: 99 per cent. So I'm one of the lucky ones and I got to do this crazy thing with Stanfield's and communicate about something that is close to my heart. So it's an amazing thing for me."
While he experienced plenty of cold days across the country -- sometimes requiring him to suit up in long underwear -- McIntyre said he received a warm welcome at the end of his journey.
The 43-year-old was greeted with a parade through the town of Truro, including a brass band and cheerleaders.
Stanfield's employee Sandra Coulter made sure to get a picture with the guest of honour. "I've been following him all across with this trip and my department is the one that makes the underwear that he's been wearing, so it's very interesting," she said.
Christine Baker, of the Canadian Cancer Society, congratulated McIntyre and Stanfield's on the initiative.
"To see the amount of energy and enthusiasm that comes together from an organization and a community -- and really a country; Mark has done an incredible job of being very unique and inspiring many people to raise money for a great cause," she said.