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By Paula Brown
David Kirk has been a part of the Terry Fox Run since the very beginning.
Arriving in the back hills of Orangeville on that Sunday in 1981, Kirk, a now retired teacher, was there to take part in the “tough” route as a runner, thinking little about what the Terry Fox Run stood for.
“I really didn't get into it thinking much about what the goal of the Terry Fox Foundation was and as time evolved, I started to take it more seriously about what the Terry Fox event was all about,” said Kirk. “It was a fundraiser event, it wasn't just an opportunity for a run, and I got more serious about my fundraising.”
Since his first run in 1981, Kirk has participated and fundraised for the Terry Fox Run for 40 consecutive years.
“In the beginning it was a serious run with little family donations and now it's a little family walk with serious fundraising,” said Kirk.
The 2020 Terry Fox Run marks the 40th year of the annual event, which has become the largest fundraising event for cancer research in the world.
Terry Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg in 1977, and had his leg amputated 15 cm above his knee. Terry began his Marathon of Hope, the foundation for the now traditional yearly event that honours his legacy, in 1980 with the goal of informing Canadians on the need to find a cure for cancer. Through his marathon he travelled an average of 42km every day for 143 days. On September 1, 1980 Terry was forced to stop his marathon when cancer spread to his lungs. He died in June 1981, at the age of 22.
The Terry Fox Run now takes place around the world annually in 33 countries across five continents. More than 10,000 individual events are organized in Canada each year.
“Everybody is touched by cancer, either directly or indirectly,” said Kirk. “It's a tremendously prevalent disease in our society.”
During his Marathon of Hope, Terry Fox raised a funding total of $24.17 million, and the Terry Fox Foundation (TFF) has singularly each year raised over $20 million for discovery research for cancer.
The 2020 Terry Fox Run, which is being held virtually on Sept. 20, has a theme this year of “One day. Your way” to encourage walkers, runners, bikers, and hikers to take part in the event.
“40 years after the Marathon of Hope, in a year where we are all learning to live life differently, there is only one way forward for Terry Foxers: we all have to try,” said Fred Fox, Terry's brother. This year's event looks to echo the message that Terry once said, “anything is possible if you try.”
“They don't want the momentum of 40 years to be lost,” said Kirk.
Kirk, in his 40th year participating, continues to raise funds for TFF, because as he says “COVID-19 didn't cancel cancer.”
On Sept. 20 he says he's planning to do what he has done for many years - walk with his wife, children, and grandchildren, something he says he is most proud of.
“The 40th celebration was supposed to be a massive event and unfortunately, as is true for so many things, it's had to take a backseat and I want to maintain a community awareness,” said Kirk.
Kirk has a goal of raising $6,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation, to donate through the Kirk family go to www.terryfox.ca/kirkfamily.
The Terry Fox Run, “One Day. Your Way”, will happen on Sept. 20.
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