The upcoming weekend will bring West Coasters an opportunity to honour a Canadian iconâ€™s legacy while raising money for cancer research.
Canadaâ€™s annual Terry Fox Run will be held on Sunday, September 14, and Ucluelet is one of the many communities that will be participating Coast to Coast. Registration is at 12:30 p.m., run begins at 1 p.m. at Ucluelet Community Centre.
Each year, communities across Canada participate in the Terry Fox Run to keep the cancer-battling dollars coming in and the iconâ€™s legacy thriving and Ucluelet has been involved for over two decades.
The run was already an established community staple by the time Abby Fortune became the districtâ€™s director of parks and recreation 22 years ago and she said zero consideration has ever been given to knocking it off the docket.
â€œItâ€™s really important, period, to everyone…Itâ€™s the community of Canada,â€ she said.
â€œItâ€™s such an important event and I think itâ€™s that community balance to ensure that we are having some things happening even if theyâ€™re small. Itâ€™s very important and I do think the impact is very high.â€
The districtâ€™s recreation programmer KK Hodder said the run attracts a modest but passionate crowd each year.
â€œItâ€™s not a ton of people but itâ€™s very important to the people that do participate in it and do come out,â€ she said. â€œEven though itâ€™s not a huge thing, itâ€™s a good thing to continue with in the community and promote awareness of cancer research…Itâ€™s a good community-building event.â€
Hodder said the event is open to anyone and participants can choose from three routesâ€”3 km, 5 km, or 8 kmâ€”to run, walk, or roll.
â€œThe run itself is completely accessible in any form you choose to do it in,â€ she said adding all routes are pavement-based and none involve trail terrain.
Fortune said Uclueletâ€™s portion of the nationally recognized and beloved event sees significant participation from out of towners.
â€œThey know to look for it, the dates are usually well publicized wherever you go and whatever small community you go to,â€ she said. â€œPeople are aware of it and itâ€™s something thatâ€™s extremely personal…Itâ€™s such a known run for cancer research. Itâ€™s been around for so many years, I remember when I was doing it in elementary school.â€
Recreation assistant Lyvi Rivera said a solid roster of five volunteers are already signed on to make this yearâ€™s event a success and she encourages others to get involved in any way they can, including cheering on runners making their way through town on Sunday.
Rivera has set up a display at the community centreâ€™s lobby that includes a large white poster for locals and visitors to write the names of people theyâ€™re thinking of during the Terry Fox event.
â€œThey donâ€™t necessarily have to run, if you just want to come in and put someoneâ€™s name down youâ€™re still supporting the cause,â€ she said noting a young girl recently wrote â€œgrandmaâ€ on the board.
Fortune encourages all West Coasters to come out and support the cause, regardless of whether they participate in the event.
â€œCancer touches us all. Youâ€™d be hard pressed to find anyone that cancer hasnâ€™t affected somehow,â€ she said. â€œNo matter how big or small the donation it does make a difference.â€
The event will attract participants from the other side of the peninsula as well as the District of Tofino does not host a Terry Fox Run.
Tofinoâ€™s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers, whose department includes recreation, said Tofino has not traditionally held a Terry Fox Run but any locals wanting to see it added to the communityâ€™s calendar is encouraged to let him, or Tofinoâ€™s recreation commission, know.
Terry Fox was just 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcomaâ€”bone cancerâ€”in 1977 and was forced to have his right leg amputated.
While undergoing treatment, Fox was inspired by the other cancer patients he met and he decided to run across Canada to raise awareness and interest in cancer research. He started in St Johnâ€™s, Newfoundland in 1980.
Fox made it 5,379 km before having to stop in Thunder Bay, Ontario when the cancer reached his lungs.
He died at 22 years old in June 1981 but not before inspiring millions across Canada and the world and seeing his Marathon of Hope raise over $24 million by February 1981.
After Terryâ€™s death, his mother Betty immediately took on the task of developing the Terry Fox Run, which has since evolved into the Terry Fox Foundation.
According to the foundationâ€™s website, it has raised over $650 million for cancer research to date.
For information, call Lyvi Rivera at 250-726-7772.