Cape Breton man reaches milestone of delivering 10,000 'Meals on Wheels'

Before there was Uber Eats of Skip The Dishes, there was Donnie MacRae.

The dedicated Cape Bretoner has been delivering for Meals on Wheels for nearly 20 years.

"And this week, I celebrated delivering my 10,000th meal," said the Howie Centre, N.S., resident.

A couple of times per week, MacRae arrives at the headquarters for the New Dawn Meals on Wheels program based in Sydney. It's long since become routine for the 75-year-old, but when he dropped off meal number 10,000 recently to Joe Burke -- a veteran who served with the Cape Breton Highlanders -- it was special.

"(It's) all the dedication of all the volunteers and the workers here, and I just feel I'm part of a team," MacRae said. "But I guess it is a special moment, so I treasure it."

MacRae started delivering Meals on Wheels in 2004. The fact he was doing this then -- or now -- is amazing, given his bleak health prognosis nearly two decades back.

"I've had a battle with cancer," MacRae said. "Nineteen years ago, I wasn't given much of a chance of still being here. I survived the cancer. (Now) I'm ready for my third pacemaker."

The kitchen staff at Meals on Wheels have only been too happy to share in MacRae's milestone.

"It's crazy to think that we've made that many meals and it's crazy to think that he's hand-delivered that many himself," said Shannon MacNeil, one of the program's organizers.

Seventeen years and more than 10,000 meals later, MacRae says he's seen a lot on the doorsteps, but he's never really asked for anything in return.

"The pleasure you get from delivering the meal and knowing that somebody's getting a nice meal -- that's the reward," MacRae said.

Lately, MacRae has been delivering meals with his 15-year-old grandson Preston - who recently celebrated a milestone of his own, with his 1,000th meal drop-off.  The elder MacRae says he likely won't deliver too many more meals. He's thinking about giving it up in the not-too-distant future, but he's glad to have been of service.

"The reward is the people you deal with," MacRae said. "You meet some great people."