TORONTO -- In a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has stalled fundraising efforts for myriad diseases, Jason Furlano is pounding the pavement.

The Ontario man ran a marathon-length distance, about 42 kilometres, every day last week in efforts to raise money for cancer research.

“Cancer didn’t take a break during the pandemic,” the advertising executive told CTV National News. “Cancer continues to plague us all.”

He hopes to complete 5,500 kilometres, the width of Canada, by the end of the year, a goal inspired by Terry Fox, who succumbed to cancer while on a cross-country “marathon of hope.” Furlano has already completed 4,700 kilometres, worn through 12 pairs of running shoes and raised more than $40,000 in donations.

The fundraising mission itself was inspired by the leukemia battle of his childhood friend’s wife, Jillian, who was diagnosed late last year when they were weeks away from getting married. She underwent chemotherapy, received a stem cell transplant, had a wedding ceremony at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and is now in remission.

“Seeing Jillian be so strong through that process -- that’s really what pushed me to do something, get out of my comfort zone, and really push my boundaries,” said Furlano, who wasn’t much of a runner before he began his lofty goal to raise money for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre as a thank-you. He hopes to bring in another $60,000 by the end of the year.

“It’s amazing. He’s doing a wonderful job,” said Jillian about her friend’s fundraising efforts. 

Furlano’s run has apparently inspired others to join “The DIY Challenge,” a movement benefiting the hospital where Jillian was treated. A site dedicated to the challenge has personal fundraising pages from people committed to fundraising efforts like knitting hats, baking bread, or like Furlano, running thousands of kilometres. Between 185 participants, the hospital has raised more than $165,000.