Local resident to hold annual marathon skate fundraiser, 1926 Skate

January 11, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Shelburne resident Steve McNeil, 62, is strapping on the skates and preparing to brave the winter cold for several hours this weekend as he gears up to skate for a cause. 

McNeil will be taking part in his annual marathon skate fundraiser, called the 1926 Skate, on National Skate Day (Jan.14) at Nathan Phillip Square to raise awareness and donations for Alzheimer’s. 

McNeil took part in his first marathon skate in 2012, skating for 19 hours and 26 minutes in honour of his mother, Eunice, who was born in 1926 and had been battling Alzheimer’s for 20 years. Following her passing in February of 2013, McNeil decided to turn his one-time marathon skate event into an annual fundraiser for Alzheimer’s.  

The first official 1926 Skate was held on Dec. 15 – his mother’s birthday – in 2013 at Nathan Phillips Square. Since its inception, McNeil has taken part in 35 marathon skates, all of which have been 19 hours and 26 minutes long, across the country and has raised thousands of dollars for the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. 

While for the last 12 years, McNeil raised donations and awareness for Alzheimer’s, this year, he is expanding Marathon Skate to include all charities. 

The decision to expand the event to include other charities came from the passing of McNeil’s wife of 33 years, Tina. On Jul. 1, 2022, the couple were watching the nightly news when Tina had a seizure, and after a visit to the hospital, she was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. Just 39 days after being diagnosed, Tina died at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. 

“My whole world perspective changed in 2022,” said McNeil. 

One of the last things Tina said to him was, “From bad comes good,” and with that, McNeil began to think of ways to incorporate causes close to other people’s hearts into his own event. 

“I started the conversation with my best friend that I didn’t think I could skate for just Alzheimer’s anyone, and he told me, ‘You get along with everyone, so why don’t you skate for everyone,'” explained McNeil. 

As part of this year’s marathon skate, McNeil is asking people to donate $19.26 to a charity of their choice on behalf of the skating event. 

“It’s a pretty cool feeling, knowing that somebody is going to help someone else through a donation to a charity and that they’re going to make that donation on behalf of what I’m doing,” said McNeil. 

While skating for nearly 20 hours can seem intimidating for any regular person, for McNeil, it’s the easiest part of the day. 

“It’s what I love to do and I’ve spent so much of my life with skates on my feet,” he said.

McNeil will be on the ice at Nathan Phillips Square starting at midnight on Jan. 13 and will complete his 19 hours and 26 minutes of skating by 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 14. 

To learn more about 1926 Skate For All Charities, visit

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