Nfld. & Labrador

This man is pushing up and powering through a walk across Newfoundland for mental health

Bill Guiney, who lives in Renews, is walking from Port aux Basques to St. John's to promote mental health initiatives and awareness in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Bill Guiney does 10 pushups for every kilometre he walks across the island

Bill Guiney of Renews is walking across the island to support mental health initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Submitted by Nicole Button)

By the time Bill Guiney completes his journey across the island of Newfoundland, he'll likely have done more pushups than most people will do in their entire lives.

Guiney, who lives in Renews on the Southern Shore, is walking from Port aux Basques to St. John's to promote mental health initiatives and awareness in the province. Accompanied by his wife, Susan, he is partnering with the Canadian Mental Health Association to raise funds for the cause.

He started 10 days ago, and has set a goal of walking 40 kilometres per day, along with 10 pushups for each kilometre — that's 400 pushups a day.

The walk continues to build from Bill's first challenge five years ago — completing 2,000 pushups in an hour — and he's managed to raise the stakes every year since.

"It's always been somewhat of a pushup challenge, so I had to incorporate the pushups there somehow," he told CBC Radio's Crosstalk while catching his breath near Corner Brook on Thursday.

"I'll be 59 in August, and I figured it's going to be this year or never."

While Bill walks the roads of the province, Susan is always by his side in their car, offering moral support, refreshment and the occasional rest. She was initially shocked when Bill brought up the idea of walking across the island but says he is committed to completing the goal by the end of August.

"I said, 'Are you off your head?'" she laughed. "But I'm glad I'm here at the end of the day when he stops walking."

Guiney's wife, Susan, drives alongside him as he walks. The couple has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association for the journey. (Submitted by Nicole Button)

The Guineys have been working to promote mental health awareness in the province since 2016, after two of their daughters were hospitalized due to anxiety and depression the year before.

They served as a major inspiration for the walk, according to Susan, along with many others the two have met on their journey.

"We did it to show them that we understand that every day is not great. You can talk to us, you can lean on our shoulders, you can cry … but it's OK, because at the end, we'll still be here. We wanted to do it for them."

Above all, both Bill and Susan hope increased awareness of mental health services will help relieve the stigma around mental health and help people who may be struggling become more comfortable about seeking help.

"We all need to talk about it. It's nothing to be ashamed of anymore," Susan said. "When you have somebody that's coming to grips with what they're experiencing, they don't know how to talk about how they're feeling, or what they're going through, because they're afraid of being looked down upon.

"That causes depression. It's in all of us, it's just that certain people can handle it a lot better than others."

Bill and Susan also thanked those who have donated to their cause, or spent time meeting or walking with Bill on their journey.

"The money is needed, but the awareness is more important," he said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Crosstalk