Curtis Hargrove, who was born and raised in Cold Lake, first met Angel Magnussen in 2012 at the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto. While the Argonauts battled the Calgary Stampeders on the field, Hargrove and Magnussen were involved in another battle of sorts.
Both were in attendance at the Grey Cup as finalists of the Scotiabank Game Changer’s program, which aims to recognize and reward the achievements of local heroes, and highlights how individuals have demonstrated leadership and made a positive impact in their communities. Each of the eight finalists had the chance to win $25,000 for their respective charities.
“It was cool because Angel was raising funds for sick kids and so was I so it was an instant connection for us,” explained Hargrove who added they kept in contact over the years and just last summer she asked him to be her prom date. “I quickly accepted and went to Port Alberni where I got to see how she lives her everyday life.”
It was here Magnussen showed him where she makes the blankets she donates to sick children as part of her own non-profit foundation, Hugginz By Angel which she describes as her way of wrapping sick kids in a warm hug.
“She also showed me the store where she bags groceries, only to donate her entire paycheques to the children’s hospital,” explained Hargrove.
“At only 18 years of age she has done so many incredible things and raised over $330,000 for various charities.”
During his trip to take Magnussen to the prom, Hargrove learned how big of a fan she was of Ellen Degeneres and her show. In fact she had even sent Ellen a blanket of her own, and although the package delivery company showed the blanket had been delivered, Magnussen had not received a reply. She told Hargrove of how she wished Ellen could come to Port Alberni so they could make a blanket together for the sick kids.
“She knows how much Ellen loves helping people because it’s the same amount that she herself does,” he explained. That’s when he had his bright idea. “What if Angel handmade a blanket for Ellen and I would be her currier of sorts and deliver it to Ellen by hand?
“So I promised to Angel that I’m going to run from her Hugginz studio in Port Alberni to Ellen’s studio in Los Angeles – it’s around 2,000 km and will take me roughly 50 days.”
As challenging as it will be, Hargrove is no stranger to long distance fundraising runs.
At the age of 18, he ran 1,450 km across all of Alberta and B.C. in which he raised $50,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation. A few years later, a young girl who had been diagnosed with cancer contacted Hargrove after hearing about his run across the two provinces.
“At nine years old Delaney was diagnosed with a rare type of tumour in her foot,” explained Hargrove who was studying kinesiology at Red Deer College at the time. “So when she wrote to me I left Red Deer and made a surprise visit to her at the hospital and I announced right then and there after meeting her that I was going to run across Canada.”
Hargrove left from St. John’s, Newfoundland in late 2012 and arrived in Victoria, B.C. on Aug. 9th, 2013 after successfully raising $250,000 for the Edmonton Children’s Stollery Hospital.
“I love being out on the highway, music in my ear, and the self-reflection time,” he explained when asked to describe what it was like to run such long distances. “But what really kept me going out there was thinking about the kids back home in the hospital who are fighting for their lives every single day.
“The pain I went through was nothing compared to what those kids were dealing with.”
Hargrove plans to set off for Ellen’s studio on his next big adventure, Wings For Angel on May 30th following a party being held to raise funds to help Angel’s family give Angel a more accessible home.
When asked where his philanthropic spirit resonates from, Hargrove grants this honour to his grandfather, Richard Lasouski.
“My grandfather has always been a huge role model in my life, and he himself has raised a lot of funds for charities in his life – primarily the Terry Fox Foundation,” he explained. “So basically I’m just following in his footsteps because as he gets older he can’t do as much as he used to.
“His guidance was a huge thing for me – my parents would let me spend the summers at their house along with my cousins and he taught us how to treat others with respect.”
Hargrove invites anyone inspired by his story to follow his journey by liking his facebook page www.facebook.com/CHargrove15 as well as on Twitter by following @chargrove15. A web site, www.hugginzhighway.com, has also been created to document his adventure as well as to help raise funds for his journey to Ellen which he believes will cost roughly $25,000.