Roughly 20 dedicated runners braved a soaking wet Sunday morning to honour Terry Fox’s legacy in Ucluelet on Sept. 17.
Fox was 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma leading to his right leg being amputated a few inches above his knee in 1977.
Seeing other youth suffering from the disease while he was receiving treatment himself, Fox hatched a plan to run across Canada to raise funds for cancer research. He began his ‘Marathon of Hope’ in Newfoundland on April 12, 1980, and made it 5,373 kilometres over 143 days before the cancer was discovered in his lungs and he was forced to end his run just outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. Fox passed away in June, 1981.
His efforts inspired Isadore Sharp, who had lost his son to cancer, to launch a national annual event in Fox’s name and, according to the Terry Fox Foundation’s website, the Terry Fox Run Sharpe started has raised over $750 million for cancer research since its inaugural event in 1981.
West Coast locals and visitors gathered at the Ucluelet Community Centre around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday to participate in the Terry Fox Run, which volunteers Kat and Jay Rosene helped coordinate.
“We want to give our thanks to the guy who really made an effort to bring awareness to cancer research and raise millions of dollars in doing so,” Jay told the Westerly News. “We really value Terry Fox and we will continue to, hopefully, prolong his legacy for years to come…It’s important to host an event like this so that it brings awareness to some people, like the younger generations, that may not know what he did and how he did it.”
Niall Murray of Ireland participated in the event and said emotions ran high as he ran through the rain.
“I just found out this weekend that my Uncle in England has been diagnosed with Cancer,” he said adding he’s seen several other family members battle the disease.
“That’s why I was motivated to do today’s run, to do something in their honour. You’re thinking about them and you’re thinking about what they went through with their treatment and what they experienced. You have those kinds of things running through your head.”
He said the participants of Ukee’s run shared an important and valuable sense of community.
“It was awesome seeing other people out running and high-fiving each other and pushing each other on to complete the race; knowing that a lot of other people are in the same situation as myself,” he said.
“Unfortunately, generally speaking, a lot of people have known at least somebody who’s been struck by cancer so we’re doing it in their honour and thinking about them…We’re part of this fight against the disease and we’re taking it on together.”