The clouds parted and the sun shone for the 35th Terry Fox Run, which set out from at Frank Jameson Community Centre Sept. 20, with dozens of participants signing up, warming up, then heading out onto the 2.5 kilometer track to complete one, two, three or four laps.
Mayor Aaron Stone said he participated in his first run when he was a student at Davis Road Elementary School, and that the spirit of Terry Fox has been with him ever since. “Terry’s spirit and determination really shows the best of what being a Canadian means,” he said.
He introduced one of Ladysmith’s most fervent participants in the Terry Fox Run Glenda Patterson, who was sporting the T-shirt she wore in the first ever run she participated in about 30 years ago.
A cancer survivor herself – she is currently taking treatment for a relapse – Patterson buoyed the crowd with her own story, and her dedication to the memory of Terry Fox.
“I’ve always loved, respected and been encouraged by Terry Fox,” Patterson told the crowd. “He’s definitely one of my idols.”
Patterson watches the Terry Fox movie every year, and every year it rekindles hope.
She recalled how the movie portrayed Fox observing the faces of children in the cancer clinic where he was receiving treatment, and determined to do something to alleviate the fear and realize the hopes he saw in their eyes.
“This is when he decided, ‘I’m going to make this better, and I’m going to do this run. I’m going to help whoever I can to battle cancer’,” Patterson recalled.
She is a retired nurse, who has worked with cancer patients herself, so Fox’s resolve resonates, and for Patterson, seeing his run continued is a heart-warming experience.
By joining in the run, participants are continuing his legacy, and his battle against cancer. “We shall never forget Terry, and shall continue to keep his dream alive,” she said.
Then she quoted Fox himself, saying, “We can beat cancer, all of us, all together.”
Event organizer Anita McLeod, the Town of Ladysmith’s community services coordinator, reminded participants that Patterson is one of Terry Fox’s ‘team’.
“That’s what people who are cancer survivors in Canada and all over the world are called, is Terry’s Team, and you are one of our favorite members,” she told Patterson.
A media kit put out for the 35th Terry Fox Run, recalled some of the history and achievements of the event.
The Marathon of Hope took place in 1980 “with the simple objective of informing Canadians of the importance of finding a cure for cancer.”
Fox had his right leg amputated above the knee after being diagnosed with bone cancer in 1977. “Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research,” the retrospective says.
He ran a 42 km marathon every day for 143 days, before he was forced to end his cross-Canada run when his cancer spread to his lungs.
HIs dream was realized in his lifetime, though. By Feb. 1981 donations exceeded $24 million – one dollar for every Canadian.
The foundation named after him perpetuates his drive to beat cancer, “supporting close to $20 million in discovery based research each year in Canada.”