Main photo: (back from left) Terry Fox Run organizer Sharon Stahls, Doug and Annie Oliver, Joyce Rostance, Wolfgang and Atticus Kuehnen, Mayor Karin Terziano; (front from left) Rose Blanchette, Eleanor Fry, Barb Lemay, Cathy McNaughton, and Eva Johnston at the Terry Fox flag-raising on Sept. 13 (Dawn Huddlestone)
Forty-one years after his Marathon of Hope, Terry Fox continues to inspire, with new generations taking up the torch.
Some local residents who have been moved by Terry’s message, and experiences in their own lives, gathered at Civic Square earlier this week for a flag-raising to launch Terry Fox Week, which culminates in the annual Terry Fox Run tomorrow, Sept. 19.
Among them were a girl who experienced cancer at just three years-old, a pair of brothers who host an annual Terry Fox fundraiser for their birthdays, a retired phys. ed. teacher who participates in the run with his grandchildren every year without fail, and a group of women from Rogers Cove who have committed to walking 41 laps of their building to raise funds for the Terry Fox Foundation.
“Share Terry’s story,” said organizer Sharon Stahls. “Pass on the word.”
Eva Johnston had leukemia at three years-old. It’s now in remission, and she wants to help other children living with cancer.
“The more people that spread the awareness, then it will help getting more kids to survive it,” said Eva. “When I had it, it was hard because I kept having to get in the hospital when I was sick and and I kept having to get surgeries. And also it was hard because I had to every day get a lot of things done.”
She said every amount donated helps, no matter how small – even one dollar can make a difference.
Her mom, Jennifer Fines-Johnston, said it’s important for Eva to “feel like she’s able to give back, and have some control over a situation that she’s had absolutely no control over for all those years. She actually had a little friend that passed from the same kind of cancer…she’s learned a lot of hard life lessons at a very young age.”
The Birthday Brothers, Wolfgang and Atticus Kuehnen, 11 and 8, have raised thousands of dollars over the past few years for the Terry Fox Foundation.
“When I was in grade one, we learned about Terry Fox and I was really moved by his story,” said Wolfgang. “I started to actually learn about cancer and I realized it’s been too big of a problem for too long and we really need to stop it because it’s hurt so many people. Terry is really cool, so I really wanted to look up to him and be like him and really help people out that can’t be helped when they’re in such bad conditions caused by cancer.”
His brother, Atticus, said he hopes that people understand that Terry Fox is a hero. “I don’t think he just ran across Canada for fun, I think he did it for a cause.”
This year, the pair not only raised funds, but with their locks grown long thanks to the pandemic, they decided to also donate their hair to be made into wigs for people experiencing hair loss due to cancer treatments.
Another fundraising effort has been underway at Rogers Cove. Some of the residents there have committed to walking a minimum of 41 laps around their building, in honour of the 41st anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, gathering donations as they go. Most of the participants are their 80s and 90s.
Rose Blanchette’s mother died from cancer, and her son has cancer now. She was at the flag-raising to celebrate and honour Terry’s legacy. “Terry Fox gave everybody the hope to carry on,” she said. “We like to spread the word.”
“Never stop walking,” added Barb Lemay.
“We’re losing so many people to cancer and we have to keep on in order to beat it,” said Cathy McNaughton, who added that she has lost five people close to her to the disease.
The team is also raising funds at a showing of a movie about Terry Fox this weekend, noted Joyce Rostance, with attendees donating to the cause if they’re able. “I lost a sister from cancer, and my mother,” she said.
Retired phys. ed. teacher, Doug Oliver, brings his grandchildren to the run every year, buying them a t-shirt each time. He’s so committed to the cause, that they even wore their shirts on run day one year when they were in London, England and couldn’t participate in the run itself.
The Terry Fox Run is being held virtually this year, with participants walking, running, wheeling or riding around their own neighbourhoods or backyards. You can sponsor a participant here.
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