Skip to content

Zach wants to make tracks to the Ellen Show (2 photos)

Local hero hopes to take campaign to new level

Barrie's fundraising phenom Zach Hofer has set his sights on the Ellen DeGeneres show in order to reach even more people.

"I think she can help me spread the message because she's nice, funny and kind," said Zach.

Hofer, 13, has already raised $102,190.32 for the new Child and Youth Mental Health Unit at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. 

The unit just opened on Dec. 22, 2017. 

He walked, rode his scooter but mostly cycled the 461.65 km from Barrie to Ottawa while inspiring thousands of conversations about child and youth mental health and community involvement.

The Grade 8 student has also won numerous awards and even met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

On Thursday morning, Zach shared the podium with his mom at a Barrie Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast at the Barrie County Club. 

"I wanted to help kids the most," the shy, humble teen said of his now renowned campaign called Zach Makes Tracks. 

"This past year has been a big adventure. Some of it was easy. Some of it was very hard. But we had a lot of help from people like you and I wanted to say thank you." 

The audience included Zach's right hand man on his journey, step-dad Derek Clark, the boy's grandfather, business leaders and MP Alex Nuttall.

Shelley took the crowd through a half-hour presentation about how Zach's campaign became a reality and the highlights and low points of his trek to Ottawa.

The proud mom said the family loves watching Ellen and her generous, compassionate acts.

"It kind of reflects a lot the way Zach lives his life. He's the kid who makes sure the child who is eating alone has someone to eat with. If there's a kid out there that's not playing with the group he invites them to play. Zach will go and sit with someone who doesn't have a partner and it seems like Ellen is the same kind of person. She's lifting up those less fortunate. She's giving opportunity," said Shelley. 

"It just seems like she could add a big voice to what Zach is saying and reach a lot more kids than we can."

Of course Zach's future goals include continuing to help others but also to be what his mom calls a 'normal kid.'

She says he has other ideas 'percolating' and one audience member asked when they were going on their next journey.

"I think Zach should do something on a cruise ship," joked Shelley to hearty laughter from the crowd. 

The community rallied behind Zach before and now there's a call to help him realize his dream of meeting Ellen. 

"Let's start getting the movement going," said past Chamber president Kris Hughston. "Go on Zach's Facebook page and start sharing his video with the hashtag 'Ellen.' And let's start getting the movement going and see if we can get Ellen aware of what's going on."