A 27-year-old British man running across Canada to raise money for children's hospitals in Canada and England said he is thankful he was able to retrieve the video footage chronicling his journey after he was beaten in a Banff, Alta., hotel on New Year's Eve.
Jamie McDonald began his 7,000 kilometre run in Newfoundland back in March, wearing a superhero costume — the Flash — complete with a customized cape. The attack occurred when he went back to a hotel after being at New Year's Eve party, he said.
He had gone to the hotel to have a beer with some people he had met at the party. He said "there was a group there that took a dislike" to him when he walked past one of the rooms.
"They came out and dragged me into their room and pulled me into the toilet and three men just continued to punch me in the head and in the body," McDonald told CBC's Ian Hanomansing. "And so I kind of just scrambled to get out of the hotel."
"Meanwhile, I left my bag which had all my possessions for this journey."
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The bag had his hard drive and wallet, but most importantly, it had video footage of his journey. He said he hopes to use that footage to inspire others and to continue the fundraising.
"When I couldn't see it, it was heart wrenching. My whole world came apart."
Bag returned by hotel guest, says RCMP
Banff RCMP said the bag was later returned to McDonald.
"A guest at another hotel found the missing man purse in a stairwell where it was turned in to front desk staff at approximately 6:30 a.m.," the RCMP said in a release.
"During a search of the bag, staff found the victim’s identification and called him directly, advising of the recovery of his property."
RCMP say the assault was reported by McDonald the morning after around 8:45 a.m. MT. McDonald claimed the assault took place sometime between 2 a.m. and 3:45 a.m., but he wasn't sure which hotel he was at, the RCMP said.
"The victim admittedly consumed a large quantity of alcohol during the course of the evening," the RCMP said in the release.
McDonald said he doesn't know why he was targeted. He said that he had spoken to some girls outside the room and "maybe I spoke to the wrong girl. And maybe it was the boyfriend."
"The truth is I have no idea. It was a pretty surreal experience to just be pulled in a room and be beaten."
$30K boost to fundraiser after assault
As a child, McDonald was in and out of hospitals, suffering from a rare spinal condition that weakened his immune system.
He's run about 180 marathons in total for the charities, and has about 20 left to go. McDonald has so far raised about $100,000.
He added that the attack has not soured him on Canada and that he thinks it's "one of the most special countries in the world."
McDonald said though his visit to Banff started out "crappy" it didn't end that way. After the story was reported by international media his fundraising campaign grew by more than $30,000.
"There's a silver lining to everything. Like the fundraising has just gone through the roof and the Fairmont hotel put me up with a spa treatment and a massage," he said.
Banff tourism officials say they are not concerned the incident will tarnish the resort towns' reputation.
"I think our reputation as a safe place to visit, and a fun place to visit, will rule the day," said Kurt Schroeder, a spokesman for Banff Lake Louise Tourism.
Anyone with information about the assault are asked to contact Banff RCMP at 403-762-2226.
"Police urge citizens to exercise good judgment and be cautious of strangers when socializing, whether under the influence of alcohol or not, regardless of the community," said the RCMP in the release. "Culprits can easily target unsuspecting partygoers."