By Greg Di Cresce
Miner & News, Kenora, Wednesday, August 4, 1999
It wasn’t an auspicious beginning for Jacques Gauthier.
The 60-year-old Quebecer, who wanted to walk across Canada to share his secret of how to live without pain, slipped near the start.
After only eight days into his 6500 kilometre march from sea to sea, he took a wrong step near Penticton, B.C., and found himself bedridden for three days.
« Halifax looked far away, » Gauthier said, recalling the unscheduled stop.
However, not easily discouraged, the former owner of a parts distribution centre for heavy trucks, wasn’t about to call it quits.
For three weeks he lumped through the Rockies at an excruciating pace of 18 to 20 kilometres a day until he had walked through the pain.
« My wife (Dorothée Lavoie, his co-pilot for the trip) thought maybe the fall was a hint that I was trying to go too fast, and to remind me that I should be talking to as many people as possible, » he said.
And what « miraculous » message could drive a man to consider spending from March to November crossing the width of a continent on foot?
The « liberating » message – which he outlined Saturday from his motor home at Norman Park – is that by stretching 15 to 20 minutes a day you can live a pain free life.
Okay, it sounds bizarre, but here’s his story.
Ten years ago Jacques Gauthier said he thought his world would forever be pills and pain.
Suffering from a serious neurological disorder, which has already rendered his left hand useless, Gauthier decided to trash his chemical soup of cortisone and steroids in December of 1988.
He said the daily cortisone treatment he was receiving at the time, which he began at the age of 41, had resulted in the loss of 20 per cent of his bone density and osteoporosis.
To retard this side effect of the drug, he said, his doctor told him to take steroids.
Further more, he said, his physician told him to forget about any physical exercise, and to accept the fact that there was no cure.
« That’s when I decided: no more pills. »
« I told my wife if I ended up as a quadriplegic, it would be from the disease, not the drugs, » he said.
Shortly after tossing his medication, Gauthier’s joints began to burn. « From head to toe, I was on fire in miserable pain. »
He said that during the time he experienced this severe arthritis, he was virtually confined to a bed, while his wife run the business.
In the summer of 1989, he said, his wife sold the business to spend all her time with him.
For months the arthritic pain continued, the Quebecer said, until he made a « special prayer ».
« It’s hard for me to accept this situation, but if this is your will, I swear I will be an inspiration for everybody that is confined to a wheelchair. »
The next day a friend called and told him about a healer who was once a lumberjack.
With nothing to loose, a frail and withered Gauthier, having already spent some $25,000 on a host of other alternative treatments, visited the healer.
« The guy was a lumberjack, he couldn’t even read or write, » he said.
« But he said to me that he could tell me what to do to get better. »
And it is from this illiterate lumberjack turned healer that Gauthier, at 50 years of age, learned the self-healing power of stretching.
« When he called me from the healer’s place I could hear in his voice that what he was doing there was working, » said his wife, Dorothée Lavoie.
« And when he came back home and lifted me in his arms, I knew he was healed. »
Now, 10 years later, Gauthier still shakes his head as he recalled his physician’s reaction to the « stretching » cure.
« He told me it was all in my mind, that I had a strong mind, but that one day it would crack, like a bomb, and I’d be finished. »
According to the cross-Canada walker, however repeated bone density tests have shown his density has « miraculously » climbed back normal.
Two years ago, Gauthier said he walked 1800 kilometres across Quebec to « share with the people of his province what a person could do if they took charge of their health. »
Today, the walking miracle said, he wanted to share his inspirational message with the nation.
It’s at this point that his wife held up their video: « Stretching: The Healthy Self. »
He said this was the $20 tool people needed if they wanted to know what « Stretching » was, how to do it, and when.
So after getting their message out to Canada, what’s the couple’s next step?
According to their press release, « The World » wouldn’t too far a stretch.
By the way, the video is available at local music stores across the country.