37th annual Terry Fox Run held at Island Lake

September 22, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

It’s an event that has spread throughout the world. For Canadians, he’s a national hero, an icon, and a symbol of hope in the battle against cancer.

The Orangeville-area Terry Fox Run was held at the Island Lake Conservation Area this past Sunday (September 17), raising nearly $18,000, and seeing 175 people walk or run on the conservation area’s 10 trails.

It’s a day that brings people together, when families and communities join to raise money and awareness for cancer research.

Terry Fox was 18 years old when a cancerous tumor forced the amputation of his right leg. In 1980, he began what he called his Marathon of Hope, a cross-country run across Canada to raise funds for cancer research.

He began his trek in St. John’s Newfoundland, running the equivalent of a full marathon a day (42 kilometres). He ran a total of 5373 kilometres in 143 days, before the cancer spread to his lungs, forcing him to stop outside Thunder Bay. He eventually succumbed to the cancer, and died June 28, 1981.

Although he wasn’t able to complete his run, his efforts turned into a lasting, worldwide legacy, resulting in over $750 million being raised for cancer research and treatment.

Various roads, schools, parks and buildings have been named after Fox, and several statues of him have been created in his honor.

Now every year, hundreds of thousands of Canadians from all walks of life, and countries worldwide unite for the Terry Fox Run.

At Island Lake, various residents, young and old, run or walk the 5 or 10-kilometre routes, enjoying the beautiful weather.

“It brings the iconic persona of Terry Fox back into the minds of people who may have forgotten him,” said Shannon McGinnis, one of the organizers for the run.

Brenda Holtkamp, one of the participants, spoke before the run began.

Diagnosed with stage-four tonsil squamous cell carcinoma over a year ago, she says she’s grateful for family and friends, along with the innovative research from the Terry Fox Foundation.

“Whatever your reason for walking, you are an inspiration.”

She mentioned she lost her father to lung cancer, and the run is different when you experience the battle yourself. “It just brings the reality of cancer home really strongly.”

Ms. McGinnis says they always have a strong turnout every year, with frequent returnees as well as newcomers participating. “You start to recognize that they’ve been here the last 15 years.”

One of those annual runners is David Kirk, who has been taking part in the run since its inception 37 years ago, and brought his family, including his grandchildren, to participate in the run.

He said he’s looking to do a run in Newfoundland, where Terry began the run, and do another one in Thunder Bay, where it ended.

Mr. Kirk simply said he is very passionate about the run, and Terry would have been so proud.

“You go online anywhere and look for a Terry Fox run on a Sunday, there are thousands and thousands of them. What he wanted to happen, happened way beyond his dreams, and there are people in every single community keeping it alive every year.”

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