After more than 30 days on the road, Zach Hofer was excited to sleep in his own bed last night.
The hometown fundraising hero arrived back in Barrie Tuesday afternoon after completing his mission to Ottawa.
The 13-year-old Codrington Public School student left Barrie Aug. 13 to walk, run and bike to Parliament Hill to raise awareness and funds for youth mental health.
He wanted to inspire conversations about the issue, give kids and parents the confidence to talk about it while raising funds for the new Child and Youth Mental Health Unit at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.
His trek was capped off with a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Zach's mom Shelley called it an 'honour' and credits Mayor Jeff Lehman for helping make the high level meeting happen with the PM.
"Zach's response was he is very, very, very very very tall," laughed Shelley.
"He chit-chatted with Zach for a few minutes and we took a few pictures. It was probably one of the coolest ways to have finished it. I think Zach was a little awe-struck. He told him how he felt when he was running and why he was running and who he was running for. He took time out of his day. He didn't make Zach feel rushed. He signed Zach's original letter that he wrote to him and we also got him to sign the poster as well."
It's been a whirlwind year for Zach, Shelley and her husband Derek. Derek was by Zach's side on the road the entire journey.
"We're looking forward to some rest. We are exhausted. It's been a minimum of nine months of planning but the past 30 days have been most intense. Things ramped up at the end," said Shelley.
Shelley says that 'absolutely' there are plans to celebrate in Barrie but nothing is finalized yet.
"We're looking forward to coming home and celebrating with the people that know Zach best and appreciate what he's doing," said Shelley.
"As a mom I'm incredibly proud of him and I knew that we would do whatever we could to make it the experience it had to be for Zach. We did. We made it. I've got Derek here. He's got my back. I've got his. We've tried to do our best for Zach and Zach's dreams all came true."
She calls it a 'beautiful story' in that Zach is an inspiration for kids and parents that are reaching out now to talk about mental health.
Shelley struggles with major depressive disorder but the lesson she and Derek are trying to teach Zach and everyone else is that you can manage mental illness just like you can manage diabetes and kidney disorders and lead a long and successful life.
For his part, young Zach is not ready to stop in his tracks just yet.
"Zach is already talking about Zach Makes Tracks 2. It might be called Back on Track with Zach," Shelley said.
"He wants to keep helping kids. He loves being able to help people. This has really helped him grow. He's really enjoyed it but he also just loves being a normal kid and he wants everyone to have the chance to be a normal kid."
Zach has raised more than $70,000 for RVH and donations can still be made at www.ZachMakesTracks.ca