Resident Irwin Tollefson remembers the pride he felt watching Terry Fox run across Canada on his prosthetic leg in 1980.
“It was one those things that every day we had to turn the news on and just watch and see how far he had gotten and how he was doing,” Tollefson said.
Tollefson is one of thousands of Canadians who, every year, help carry Terry’s torch through the Terry Fox Run.
Tollefson has participated in the Ladysmith Terry Fox Run since it started in 1986, though it began nationally in 1981 after Fox passed away.
“It’s all about having fun and getting out and enjoying yourself and just being there. And it doesn’t matter your skill level,” he said. “The cause is phenomenal, and having lost people, family members to cancer, it’s always been something that I’ve paid attention to.”
The 25th annual Terry Fox Run takes place September 18 at the Frank Jameson Community Centre.
According to run co-ordinator Anita McLeod, last year’s run raised just under $2,700 and saw 118 participants.
“The run has taken on an iconic significance across the country because it’s an annual event that brings the world together,” McLeod said. “It’s about cancer research and looking at not just a cure but at treatments and different ways of helping people live with what has almost become a chronic disease in some cases.”
The Terry Fox Run holds even more importance this year for those involved, with the death of Terry’s mother, Betty, in June, McLeod said.
“Betty Fox was such an integral part of the Terry Fox Foundation but also bigger than that, the Terry Fox community,” McLeod. “He was almost larger than life and part of that was her tireless promotion of the idea that Terry originally started.”
McLeod recalled one year when Betty Fox made a visit to the Ladysmith High School.
“Seeing her retelling the story of her son and how he overcame the odds to do what he did, you could see the kids were transfixed by the idea that a young man would try to run across Canada on an artificial leg,” she said.
Registration starts at noon, and the run begins at 1 p.m. Participants can walk, wheel or run the 2.5 km level loop, or choose to go the circuit several times to make a 10k run.
There is no minimum donation required to participate, but those wanting to get ahead on the fundraising can pick up pledge forms at Frank Jameson.
This year’s theme is ‘Working Together to Outrun Cancer’.
McLeod said it is a fitting theme, given how with today’s treatments and technology, cancer is being seen as more of a journey than a battle.
“The cancer fight has become such a corporate machine, that it’s almost as though he [Fox] saw that in the beginning and said ‘this is about a community event, people coming together once a year,’” she said.
McLeod said she would love to see the local Terry Fox Run become a more volunteer-driven event.
“Anyone interested in becoming the volunteer Ladysmith run organizer would have the full support of the department of parks and recreation in helping to organize future Terry Fox runs,” McLeod said.
For more information, people can email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how they can get involved.