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Vancouver Island dad swims 1,000 metres a day to honour son’s cancer battle

Nathaniel Stoffelsma’s overall goal is to do this for 365 days, donate money to charity
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Nathaniel Stoffelsma enjoys a swim with his 11 and eight-year-old sons, Alex (left) and Jens, at Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich. (Courtesy Nathaniel Stoffelsma)

Whether in the pool or ocean - when it’s not too cold - Nathaniel Stoffelsma hits the water every day with one goal in mind: to swim 1000 metres.

The North Saanich father has been swimming the distance daily since his Aug. 2 birthday with the goal of reaching 365 kilometres by his next. That’s approximately equivalent to the distance of three round-trip ferry rides between Victoria and Vancouver.

Stoffelsma is swimming to raise $30,000 for charity, as well as honour his son Alex’s courageous battle against cancer. Alex, who’s now cancer-free, was diagnosed six years ago with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a type of blood cancer that starts in bone marrow.

During a road trip to Nelson last year, Stoffelsma decided to give back to others in need because of the overwhelming support he and his family received throughout his son’s intensive chemotherapy and more than five months in hospital.

“Along the way, a lot of people have been very generous donating to the charities that we want to support,” he told Black Press Media. “So I just thought that I wanted to turn it around and give back to charities that other people might want to support. There’s so many causes in need of support out there.”

Stoffelsma said he wanted to do something healthy and that he could commit to doing every day without injuring himself. As a former triathlete, swimming was a perfect choice. He started an online fundraiser on his birthday and began racking up kilometres in the water.

Stoffelsma admitted to having missed a few days of swimming, but said he always makes it up later.

More than 180 days into his challenge and Stoffelsma has swam a distance of 230 kilometres since he started.

He’s currently on track to surpass his original 365-km goal by August and has raised about $3,100 via his campaign, which he’s matched for a total donation of about $5,400 to BC Children’s Hospital so far.

Stoffelsma, however, said he’ll match any donations to the charity of the donor’s choosing.

“I’m not trying to come off across like ‘Look at me.’ I’m just trying to do a good thing.”

To learn more about the fundraising campaign, visit Stoffelsma’s GoFundMe page.

ALSO READ: Polar Plungers dive into fundraiser to get B.C. Special Olympians back in action


Do you have a story tip? Email: austin.westphal@saanichnews.com.

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Austin Westphal

About the Author: Austin Westphal

Austin Westphal is the newest member to join the Saanich News team.
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