July 24th, 2024

Hamilton stair master Walter Decker, 99, completes CN Tower climb for 3rd time

By The Canadian Press on October 23, 2023.

TORONTO – A 99-year-old Hamilton man climbed 1,776 steps to the top of the CN Tower over the weekend, his third time pulling off the accomplishment in support of charity.

Walter Decker was joined by his son, grandson and two great-grandsons at the United Way ClimbUP on Saturday, where he raised more than $3,000 for people struggling to meet basic needs from housing and food to mental health supports.

Decker, who turned 99 last week, said he first began stair climbing more than 10 years ago as a distraction from his grief after his wife passed away, which he said made him “lost.”

“It took my mind off the grieving process,” he said in an interview. “A lot of people grieve in different ways and they cope with it in different ways.”

Since then, Decker has been climbing up the steps of the Hamilton Escarpment three times a week, which he said amounts to between 700 and 1,200 steps. He also does 30 to 50 pushups each morning when he wakes up.

“Other than that, nothing special,” he said of his preparation for his journey up the tower, a feat he also accomplished in 2015 and 2016.

But a few years older at 99, Decker is still at the top of his game. During this weekend’s climb, he and his family members paced themselves, pausing to catch their breaths after 60 or 70 steps and careful not to rush, he said.

They climbed up the tower in 70 minutes and 20 seconds – though he stressed it would have been under an hour if media interviews hadn’t slowed him down.

“No after-effects at all, not a bit. Not even tired,” he said in an interview the following day.

He won’t be attending next year’s ClimbUP campaign because he’ll be busy in San Francisco for his granddaughter’s wedding, but said he’ll continue his weekly escarpment climbs. Beyond that, he’s “not looking too far ahead yet,” he said with a laugh.

He had one message to pass on to others looking for motivation or to get started on their fitness journey.

“Don’t put off anything until tomorrow that you should be doing today.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2023.

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