This year celebrates the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. With the theme of “One Day. Your Way.”, participants all across Canada are being encouraged to choose a safe route to independently walk, run, bike, or be active for the virtual event on Sunday, September 20.
“We’ve got to keep this run going,” says Sharon Stahls, Huntsville’s volunteer event organizer. “Terry’s motto was ‘Anything is possible if you try’. We’ve all got to ‘Try like Terry’.”
Stahls, a retired principal, has been involved in the annual event for the past 38 years, organizing countless school events and eventually becoming the local coordinator. “I’m very passionate about the Terry Fox Run.”
September 14–20 will be Terry Fox week in Huntsville. There will be a flag raising at Town Hall on September 14 to kick off the week’s events.
“Usually the Terry Fox Run takes place outside, starting at Huntsville High School, where we organize a warm-up for runners and walkers. Local businesses usually donate food and refreshments for participants,” says Stahls.
As with so many events during the pandemic, this year will look different for the Terry Fox Run. While adhering to public health guidelines for COVID-19, volunteer organizers are urging participants to be creative and have fun with how they honour Terry Fox this year while raising money for cancer research.
Terry Fox began his cross-Canada Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980 in St. John’s Harbour, Newfoundland, three years after losing his right leg to cancer at age 18. Fox’s goal was to raise $1 million for cancer research. He had hoped to inspire every Canadian to donate just $1 to raise over $20 million. When his effort came to an end, Fox had run 5,373 km through six provinces, running close to a marathon a day (42 km) for 143 days. He was just outside Thunder Bay, Ontario on September 1, 1980 when it was discovered that his primary cancer had spread to his lungs.
Terry’s legacy has raised far more than his initial goal. According to the Terry Fox Foundation website, over $800 million has been raised for cancer research to date in Terry’s name, with 79 cents of every dollar raised going directly to fund innovative cancer research.
The Terry Fox Foundation sent out personal pledge sheets and donation envelopes this year to participants from previous years’ events. But primarily participants are being encouraged to register through the website or app, where they can gather pledges and donations while they participate individually or with those within their social circle in order to avoid public gatherings.
“We can’t delay in trying to find a cure for cancer. We’re committed to fund cancer research,” says Stahls. “If people want to donate, they can do so on the website, but I am also happy to come pick up donations—safely and adhering to social distancing. People can contact me by phone or email.”
Stahls is also selling Terry Fox t-shirts to raise money. She will be selling them outside the Algonquin Theatre, weather-permitting, on Saturday, September 12 and 19 for $20 each.
“There are so many ways to honour the 40th year anniversary. People can swim 40 laps, bike for 40 minutes, walk 40 laps of the [Conroy Park] track, share their efforts with 40 people on social media,” says Stahls, who embarked upon completing 40 paddles in her kayak this summer. Paddling on the river between the Brunel Locks and Mary Lake, she intended to place $10 in a jar for each paddle she completed. “So far, I’ve got $300 in that jar that I’ve raised!”
To have a donation for the Huntsville virtual run picked up, contact Sharon Stahls at email@example.com or 705-385-8321.
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