Sydney Pratt, treasurer with Branch 26 of the Royal Canadian Legion, has raised over $30,000 in the legion's poppy drive.
Ninety-three-year-old Syd Pratt has already canvassed many shops along Bernard Avenue and various side streets. It's the 37th year in a row Pratt has conducted the main downtown campaign
"My objective each October is to get a little bit more money than I did the previous year. I haven't failed yet, and I hope I never will," Pratt said Saturday.
"The business people of this community are just outstanding in their support for the campaign," Pratt said.
Each year, the Kelowna branch of the Royal Canadian Legion raises about $130,000 during the poppy campaign. Pratt himself is responsible for collecting about one-quarter of the total.
He works Monday to Friday, from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., visiting hundreds of businesses between Richter Street and Okanagan Lake.
Since he's been making the rounds for so long, most people know precisely why he's there when he shows up in his medal-bedecked blue blazer.
"One advantage of doing this so many years is that I don't have to go into a big spiel or anything," he said. "Ninety-nine per cent of people know what it's about, and they reach for their chequebook."
While the public portion of the poppy campaign doesn't begin until Oct. 26, the legion relies on a cadre of just five veterans to run the entire commercial campaign.
"We have to start so far in advance to make sure the whole city is covered," said Frank Truman, who covers the South Pandosy commercial district.
Like Truman, most of the other vets engaged in the campaign are in their 70s. They can only marvel at Pratt's endurance.
"Syd does a phenomenal, unbelievable job," Truman said. "He's like the Energizer Bunny. Wind him up and away he goes."
Typical business donations are in the range of $20 to $50, but some kindhearted store owners have contributed as much as $1,000. The money goes toward helping vets with such things as wheelchairs, bathtub supports, scooters and walkers.
Despite his age, Pratt doesn't rely on a walker as he makes his long, daily tour of downtown Kelowna.
"God willing, I won't need a walker for about another 10 years or so," he said.