It’s been 35 years since Canadians first ran to commemorate Terry Fox and continue his Marathon of Hope in support of cancer research. On Sept. 18, his legacy lives on through fundraising runs around the country, including one in Elmira.
Organizer Kathy Bowman notes that almost everyone, her own family included, has had to deal with a cancer diagnosis.
“In this past year alone, I have lost three aunts and my father to cancer, and last year, when we had the Terry Fox Run, it was just my father-in-law who had been diagnosed, and then right after that my dad was diagnosed, then my aunt, then my dad’s other sister. It was crazy,” she said from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto where she was with her father-in-law as he received treatment. “Everybody knows somebody. When we go to Grand River, there are new people coming in every time. You run into people and it is like, ‘oh my gosh, you too?’”
The Terry Fox Run is the longest running charity fun run in Canada and there’s no minimum donation required to participate. The first Terry Fox Run was held on Sept. 13, 1981, and has become an international event that sees more than three million people in some 60 countries taking part. It’s the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research, and has raised more than $600 million in Fox’s name.
Nationally, the run has raised millions of dollars for cancer research and patient supports, and for that, Bowman and her family are grateful.
“If it wasn’t for people and organizations like the Terry Fox Foundation, and the people that come out to these things and put the runs together, all of our participants and all of the researchers, we wouldn’t have the treatments we have,” she said, emphasizing the importance of the fundraising aspect of the event. “It is incredible to know that all of these things have changed in terms of treatment. We have come a tremendous way in all these years, but there is still much further to go.”
To Bowman, it is the survivors that have benefited from advancing research and treatment techniques that provide the encouragement to keep the Elmira Terry Fox Run going year after year.
“When I start to feel down about how this is affecting us, and I admit, it does make me feel down to know that we have lost so much, then I look at these survivors and I think about them as an inspiration,” she said. “We have a fantastic group of people that continue to come out year after year and raise so much money. Some come out with just personal donations and they are fantastic. Every year that adds up. It has been incredible. You can’t not appreciate them. They come back for years.”
This year, the run will be taking a bit of a different route. With road construction in the area, the usual route along South Field Drive is blocked.
“We are going to have to go through town, so look out Elmira, we are coming through town. We have the routes mapped out through the township. We are going to put it on our Facebook page so people know where we are going. People will be coming through, and it is going to be fun,” she said.
The run starts at 1 p.m. Sunday at Programmed Insurance Brokers, with registration starting up at noon. Everyone is welcome. There will be a BBQ free for participants, a raffle for prizes donated by local businesses, and free water refill stations to keep walkers and runners hydrated. The event is open to those of all fitness levels and abilities.
To sign up for the race ahead of time, visit terryfox.ca and search ‘Elmira.’