Running for Terry
Runners and walkers will all come together on Sunday to celebrate Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope and to raise money for the fight against cancer.
At the start of the summer of 1980 few knew who Terry Fox was, but Monique Sullivan did.
As the iconic Canadian started his Marathon of Hope to very little fanfare, Sullivan was glued to her radio and television each day listening for updates as Terry set out to travel the equivalent of one marathon every day with the aid of a prosthesis after losing his leg to cancer.
He was just 21 years old. “I remember following it and I have newspaper clippings from when I was kid,” Sullivan said. “[That was] on my own. It was towards the end of the school year when he came to Ontario. It was close to Canada Day… I remember they had to make alterations to his run so he could hit the events they wanted him to in Ottawa and that was when he really started getting popular… I suspect mom had something to do with encouraging me.”
Terry set out to raise cancer awareness and in the process raise $1 for every Canadian. It was an unimaginable goal, even to Terry’s own family, but as he progressed through Ontario and national attention rose, it started to seem like the young man from British Columbia would accomplish his dream.
Sadly, his cancer would otherwise and his run would end in Ontario.
“I can still remember seeing that image of him, when they were putting him in the ambulance. I would have been nine. Barely nine, when he did the run, but I can still remember seeing him on the news and that he was stopping,” Sullivan said.
That was Sept. 1, 1980. He would die less than a year later, on June 28, 1981.
His legacy was set in motion, however, and Sullivan was part of the first Terry Fox Run in 1988. Today, the run has raised over $700 million worldwide, far surpassing Terry’s goal of $24 million, and it has done so without corporate sponsorship. For many, it’s a way of upholding Terry’s goals and memories, while for others the run is much more personal.
“I don’t think Amherst is any different than any other Maritime community. We have such a high rate of cancer. Just looking at the obituaries on the weekend, there are quite a few people who were strong advocates who were battling for a long time,” Sullivan said. “One of the reasons I believe so strongly in the Terry Fox organization is they have a very high rate of return; very little is spent on the administration.”
This year’s Terry Fox Run in Amherst will be Sunday, Sept. 17. Pledges can be collected in advance, and participants can register the day of the event. Individuals, teams, groups and organizations can participate, and there is no minimum pledge or entry fee. If people just want to come out and participate, Sullivan says that is great, too.
Registration takes place at 9 a.m. at Dickey Park on East Pleasant Street. A 5km and 10 km route will be marked within the community participants can walk, run or even bike. Participants will also have the walking track at the park available.
For more information, visit www.terryfox.ca.
There are Terry Fox champions across Canada, and here in Amherst Monique Sullivan carries the mantle. This year’s Terry Fox Run is Sunday, Sept. 17.