Metro Morning

Toronto man skates for 19 hours in -21 weather to honour mom with Alzheimer's

Steve McNeil skates for 19 hours and 26 minutes in the freezing cold to raise money for Alzheimer's research.

Steve McNeil, now in his 5th year of skating, keeps cold at bay with air guitar

'I stepped on the ice at exactly 12 a.m.,' said Steve McNeil, out to raise money for Alzheimer's research after losing his mother to the disease. (Amanda Grant/CBC)

Steve McNeil, eight hours into a 19 hour skate at Nathan Phillips Square on Thursday morning, had a few strategies to stay warm in the freezing cold weather.

First of all, he pretended he was ice-fishing, one of his favourite things to do. After all, he told CBC Radio's Metro Morning, he's "fished in worse."

Music also helps. For the duration of the skate, McNeil is listening exclusively to rock band AC/DC. "Lots of air guitar, brother!" he said.

McNeil's goal is to raise money for Alzheimer's research after his mother's 15-year battle with the disease and his mother-in-law's struggle with dementia. He skates for 19 hours and 26 minutes because 1926 was the year his mom was born.

"In the middle of refereeing a hockey game five and a half years ago, I decided this is how I could try and give back," he said.

Now in his fifth year of doing the skate, he brushes off the biting cold and exhaustion. "It's only one day. I saw what people go through every day to take care of their ageing parents."

Even the AC/DC is meant to make a statement. Malcolm Young, AC/DC's guitarist and co-founder, is now living in a nursing home with dementia.  

With city hall looming behind him, McNeil is hoping some councillors — or even the mayor — might join him.

"[Tory's] usually got his office light on, and I can see it when he comes in every year. It's my honour to skate in front of city hall like this," he said. 

According to his fundraising page for the Alzheimer's Society of Toronto, McNeil has raised $2000 so far.

With files from Metro Morning