Heavy rainfall pelted down on Ucluelet Sunday morning, but that didn’t stop residents and visitors from running and walking through town to honour a hero who inspired hope 38 years ago.
Many Canadians still remember watching Terry Fox’s ‘Marathon of Hope’ in 1980. Three years prior, Fox had been diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma and his right leg was amputated above the knee.
While reciving treatment, Fox decided to do something big to raise awareness and money for cancer research and began planning a cross-country run, which he dubbed the ‘Marathon of Hope,’ and launched in April, 1980.
He ran approximately 5,373 kilometres in 143 days from Newfoundland to near Thunder Bay Ontario before cancer was discovered in his lungs and he was forced to end the marathon. He died the following year.
Since 1981, Canadian communities have hosted local Terry Fox Runs to honour Fox’s memory.
“Terry Fox is a Canadian hero. We never should forget that,” Maureen Callaway told the Westerly News at the start of Ucluelet’s event on Sunday.
Callaway, whose mother was fighting breast cancer when Fox began his marathon and whose daughter has battled cancer in her leg and thyroid, was participating in her 25th Terry Fox Run.
“I’m doing the walk for three people very close to me. My mother, my daughter and my friend Eileen Mooney,” she said. “Eileen and I did the walk for 23 years together and, two years ago, she unfortunately lost her battle with cancer.”
Callaway said the Terry Fox Run is important to keep awareness high.
“It keeps the public awareness up of the effort and the sacrifice that he made for cancer research and to keep people aware that we need to keep fighting,” she said. “He gave such a personal sacrifice and put his own life on the line to further research and help other people. Even though he lost his battle, I think it’s important to keep his name out there.”
Mayco Noel said was inspired by watching the ‘Marathon of Hope.’
“It puts things in perspective; our little problems and the little hills that we see before us sometimes, people like Terry Fox give you the reality that things are possible with determination,” he said.
Jonny Ferguson was happy to bring his family to the event.
“It’s a good family event for a good cause. We’ll get out in the rain and be part of something historical throughout Canada,” he said. “[Terry Fox] was a very down to earth hero that we could, perhaps, emulate through his integrity and his strength.”
Ucluelet’s Director of Parks and Recreation Abby Fortune said she has been participating in the Terry Fox Run since its inception in 1981.
“Terry Fox is one of the great Canadian icons,” she said. “He was very much someone who felt the importance of his dream and his cause and he felt that cancer was something that could be beaten.”
Ucluelet’s Terry Fox Run is hosted in a partnership between the district and Kat and Jay Rosene of Endless Fitness.
“We have somebody that’s really dear to our family that has cancer and it’s really important that we show our support and do what we can to fight cancer,” said Jay. “The Terry Fox run is very inspiring for everyone and there should be many people that come out and show their support even on a rainy day.”
Kat added that the annual event brings the community together.
“It’s community and health and awareness for a cause that, I think, touches a lot of peoples lives,” she said. “I like being a part of it because it’s a great thing for the community.”