Nfld. & Labrador

How a man born without arms or legs hitchhiked from Calgary to St. John's

Chris Koch set out to inspire others by travelling across Canada this summer.

The 39-year-old criss-crossed the country this July

Chris Koch was born without arms or legs, but that hasn't stopped him from living life to the fullest. (Chris Koch/Facebook)

At the beginning of July, Chris Koch had a big idea.

He'd pack a bag and head out on the road, trying his best to hitchhike from his home in Calgary to St. John's, N.L.

Chris Koch began his journey in Calgary on July 8. (Chris Koch/Facebook)

For a regular person, this would be a feat, but Koch faced more of a challenge than most: he was born without arms or legs.

"I hope in doing this without arms and legs, I encourage people to get out, live life to the fullest," Koch said on Saturday.

On July 25, he reached his goal, stepping off the bus in St. John's and heading to North America's most eastern point: Cape Spear.

"I had high expectations for the trip, but it still far exceeded my expectations," he said.

On his journey, Chris Koch spent time in towns and cities all over the country. In Fredericton, he stayed with his friend James McPhee (right) who he says paved the way for amputees hitchhiking across Canada. (Chris Koch/Facebook)

Along the way, he was helped by strangers and old friends at every turn.

He said a man picked him up early in the morning in Toronto and drove him to Ottawa, and a woman who worked as a police officer and had a work-related injury drove him to Montreal.

In St. John's, he was helped by a chef at the Rooms Cafe.

Koch says his friend Tracy (left) promised to fly out to St. John's and meet him if he was able to hitchhike all the way there. Here they are just inches away from the north Atlantic. (Chris Koch/Facebook)

Many people followed his journey on Facebook, sending Koch messages and letting him know they could put him up or drive him places if he came by their town. 

He said in the wake of events like the Danforth shooting in Toronto — which happened as he was travelling across the country — he wants people to see that the good far outweighs the bad in Canada. 

"You feel like you can't trust people but it's the absolute opposite. That's just one person," said Koch.

"I hope people see that there's really a lot of good out there."

His trip wouldn't have been complete without a visit to the Terry Fox Memorial in St. John's. (Chris Koch/Facebook)

Once in Newfoundland, Koch visited Quidi Vidi, Signal Hill and Petty Harbour. He ended his time in St. John's on George Street getting screeched in at Christian's Pub.

After arriving in St. John's, Chris Koch headed to Christian's Pub to kiss the cod and get screeched in. (Chris Koch/Facebook)

Now, he's hoping others will be inspired by his journey and try to step out of their comfort zone.

"Hopefully me doing this gives them that nudge or proverbial kick in the butt to say, 'You know what?' I'm just going to go for it."

Koch will next "go for it" by competing in a marathon on his longboard in Iceland next month.