The tra­di­tion con­tin­ues

Dug­gan fam­ily hosts 22nd Terry Fox Run

The Casket - - Local - COREY LEBLANC coreyle­blanc@the­cas­ket.ca

It was a chance meet­ing al­most four decades ago that Leo Dug­gan will never for­get.

The re­tired ed­u­ca­tor was teach­ing at St. Mary’s Academy in Sher­brooke, at the time, when he made a stop one day at Felt­mate’s Store.

Dug­gan met a young man and started to chat with him and his com­pan­ions, hear­ing the story of why they were pass­ing through ru­ral Nova Sco­tia.

It was Terry Fox.

“I hadn’t heard that much about him,” Leo said of the ath­lete and his Marathon of Hope, which was aimed at rais­ing money for can­cer re­search.

Fox, who lost his right leg to can­cer as a teenager, started the cross-canada marathon in early April, 1980, when he dipped his pros­thetic limb into the At­lantic Ocean.

When it be­gan, and by the time he reached his sec­ond prov­ince and that stop in Sher­brooke, most Cana­di­ans — much like Dug­gan — still knew lit­tle about Fox and what would be­come his iconic and world­chang­ing ef­fort.

“It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” Leo said of their time to­gether on the fol­low­ing morn­ing.

Af­ter the ini­tial en­counter, the then phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher — along with his stu­dents — ran with Fox, as he con­tin­ued his way along High­way #7.

Al­though the Marathon of Hope ended later that year in Thun­der Bay, On­tario, af­ter 143 days and more than 3,339 miles, when Fox had to go the hospi­tal with chest pain and cough­ing. His can­cer had re­turned and was in his lungs.

From there, Cana­di­ans took up the torch for Fox, when it came to rais­ing monies, in­clud­ing as par­tic­i­pants in and sup­port­ers of the Terry Fox Run.

Leo was one of them — he trav­elled to Antigo­nish for sev­eral years to run in the an­nual event.

“He said, ‘Why don’t we have one here?’” Janet re­mem­bered of her hus­band’s idea to host a run at their Up­per South River, Antigo­nish County home.

Great sup­port

It would be safe to as­sume Fox would have loved the set­ting.

As you made your way up the Dug­gan’s drive­way on a sunny late sum­mer Sun­day morn­ing last month (Sept. 16), there was plenty to see.

Their yard was a bee­hive of ac­tiv­ity, as fam­ily and friends of all ages pre­pared to head out on the 10k route on neigh­bour­ing dirt roads.

It was the 22nd time that the cou­ple wel­comed the com­mu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the Terry Fox Run.

“Ev­ery­one has been re­ally, re­ally sup­port­ive,” Janet said of the help pro­vided by fam­ily and friends through­out the years.

It has also be­come a third gen­er­a­tion cel­e­bra­tion, with the Dug­gans’ grand­chil­dren now pitch­ing in.

Photo col­lages hung from a string draped be­tween trees in the front yard; snap shots in time cat­a­loging mo­ments of a more than two-decade con­nec­tion to the an­nual fundraiser.

Along with that col­lec­tion, the monies raised have grown — the fam­ily-led gath­er­ing has amassed more than $20,000.

Of course, the fi­nan­cial boost for can­cer re­search is about much more, in­clud­ing bring­ing friends and neigh­bours to­gether.

“We don’t have a com­mu­nity hall here, so it has pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to gather,” Janet said.

As a poignant re­flec­tion of how the Dug­gan fam­ily run in hon­our of Fox has been em­braced by so many, they came to­gether to help stage the 22nd event, when it was un­cer­tain if it would take place.

“We weren’t sure what we were go­ing to do, but ev­ery­one was there for us,” Janet said, with a smile.

It was a health chal­lenge for the cou­ple that brought about the un­cer­tainty. Leo is bat­tling ALS, com­monly known as Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease.

Be­fore par­tic­i­pants hit the trail that morn­ing; some on foot — walk­ing and run­ning — and oth­ers on two wheels, Laura, the youngest Dug­gan child, re­flected on her par­ents’ per­se­ver­ance and com­mit­ment.

“It is pretty in­spir­ing,” she said.

Corey Leblanc

Leo and Janet Dug­gan hosted their 22nd Terry Fox Run in Up­per South River, Antigo­nish County Sept. 16, which at­tracted an­other strong turnout (top).

Corey Leblanc

Some par­tic­i­pants rode in style dur­ing the Terry Fox Run hosted by Leo and Janet Dug­gan in Up­per South River, Antigo­nish County.

Corey Leblanc

Whether on foot or two wheels, par­tic­i­pants hit the trail for the an­nual Dug­gan fam­ily Terry Fox Run.

Corey Leblanc

The third gen­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing Sarah Hickey (left) Leo Michael Dug­gan and Ju­lia Fowlow, is now help­ing with the an­nual Dug­gan fam­ily Terry Fox Run.

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