John Davidson’s Story

Jesses Story - The book that started it allJohn Davidson is one of my personal heroes. He is an unflinching beacon of courage, strength, compassion and kindness. Above all, John Davidson is a father whose actions speak very, very loudly, and an inspiration for anyone who takes the few minutes to hear his story. I’m asking that you be one of these people. I promise that if you are, you will be incredibly moved by the huge commitment this parent makes to both his child, and to his community as a whole.

Unless one has experienced it themselves, I can’t stress enough how heartbreaking it is for a parent to watch their children suffer and not know how to help ease the pain. Shortly after my son Tristan was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in 2000, I packed up my life in Calgary and moved to Ottawa where he’d been recently transplanted, all so I could (a) be with him, and (b) find out more about the insidious condition that was slowly disintegrating his muscles. I desperately wanted to find something – anything – I could do to make his road easier to travel than it was looking like it was going to be.

Not long after I arrived, my research pointed me to a book titled “Jesse’s Journey,” written by a man named John Davidson, and to the London, Ontario based organization of the same name which he had founded. In his book I read how John, a broadcaster by profession, had already been down the same road I now had staring me in the face. More importantly, I read how he chose not to let DMD dictate the kind of life his son Jesse would have. The following excerpt is taken directly from the “Our Story” section of their website.

How far would you go for someone you love?        

That’s the question that led to the birth of Jesse’s Journey when one family dared to dream about what’s possible after learning the crushing news that Duchenne muscular dystrophy had become a part of their daily lives. When John and Sherene Davidson learned that their middle son Jesse was diagnosed with Duchenne they charted a life changing course for themselves-setting out to raise research funds to find the elusive cure. The story of Jesse’s Journey began to unfold in the summer of 1995 when John Davidson – at the age of 49 – set out on an incredible mission to push his 15 year old son Jesse across Ontario in his wheelchair-a trek of 3339 kilometres. The journey became a rallying point for people in communities across Ontario and across Canada. This grueling test of endurance for a determined father and son generated $1.5 million dollars for research.

Three years later there was another chapter in the amazing story. In 1998 John Davidson found himself on the road again-this time alone. On his son Jesse’s 18 th birthday John dipped his running shoes in the Atlantic Ocean at St. John’s Newfoundland. 286 days later he dipped those same running shoes in the Pacific at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. The 8300 kilometre journey across Canada generated $2 million dollars in grassroots donations made by Canadians coast to coast. From their humble beginning the Davidson’s managed to bring the Jesse Davidson Endowment on stream. The means was at hand to begin funding research each and every year. Jesse’s Journey has funded more than $5 million in research projects in North America, and is the ONLY Canadian charity that exists solely to fund Duchenne muscular dystrophy research.

The Right Road

I’ve had the good fortune to get to know John, mostly through phone calls, and even once in person when he made the time to meet me for coffee when he was on a busy tour out west. John embodies hope, inner strength and perseverance; he presses on when others around him pack it in and give up.

The Davidson Family never let the cards they’ve been dealt stop them from creating greatness, which is evident in the charity that both bears their son’s name, and helps Canadian families cope when hearing the difficult news of “Your child has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.” For that, my family and I will be forever grateful to John, Sherene and Jesse Davidson.

I hope you enjoyed John Davidson’s story, and make sure you take a moment to watch the video below to experience this great man’s courage strength and compassion. Thank you.

YouTube Preview Image

Find them online here: Jesses Journey

Photo Credits

Home Page Thumbnail – Screen cap from video

A version of this article was first posted at David Knapp-Fisher

Guest Author Bio

David Knapp-Fisher

David Knapp-Fisher

David is a lover of adventure, travel, family and food; and not necessarily in that order. As a student of life, he’s always up to one challenge or another, be it walking across 2,000 degree coals in his bare feet or constructing a cheese soufflé that doesn’t fall the moment it leaves the oven.

David lives the good life in Victoria B.C. with his lovely wife Paula, and son Tristan (who also just happens to be the major source of his inspiration) and can be found blogging about his many (mis) adventures at

Blog / Website: David Knapp-Fisher

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  1. avatarMartha says

    What an inspiring and wonderful story about the bonds of father and son, about the courage to carry on even when things look bleak and the strength to do so.

    • avatar says

      Thanks Martha – John is a remarkable man for sure, and has really been a great mentor to many of us who face some difficult challenges with our kids heath issues, reminding us that the illness is not the person. I’m glad you liked the article, and thank you for your comments.

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