Strong pays tribute to Terry Fox
Local priest remembers Canadian hero, participates in first Terry Fox Run
More than three decades ago, Rev. Bill Strong was along for the ride as Terry Fox left Outer Cove and made his way across this province. Thirty-five years later, Strong took part in his first Terry Fox Run in Harbour Grace on Sept. 20. He was one of 44 people to participate in the event.
At the field complex at St. Francis Field in Harbour Grace, Rev. Bill Strong was taking part in his first Terry Fox Run.
This year also marked 35th anniversary of Terry’s Marathon of Hope. On April 10, 1980, Strong brought Fox down to Outer Cove Beach, where he dropped a bottle into the Atlantic Ocean, scooping up a little water in the process. It was Fox’s goal to dump that water into Pacific Ocean at the end of his trek.
In addition to addressing the 44 people in attendance for this year’s run, Strong and his daughter Holly took part in the 10-kilometre annual act of remembrance.
“I just figured it was time for me to do that,” said Strong of participating in the event. “I felt it was time to make a contribution to that effort.”
Strong was a field supervisor with the Newfoundland division of the Canadian Cancer Society when Terry came to this province.
“I was involved in some of the planning (of the marathon) and the support,” said Strong. “We only had a few days notice that Terry was coming. The original plan was for him to go from Halifax.”
Strong — who now serves the Anglican Parish of Port de Grave and is also no stranger to parishioners in Upper Island Cove — was there for every one of Fox’s Newfoundland stops. Along the way, the pair became friends.
He remembers speaking engagement in St. George’s, seeing Terry blown off the road around Holyrood and watching as Terry boarded the ferry in Port aux Basques headed for Nova Scotia and the second part of his journey. Terry once ate at Strong’s home and Strong’s mother hemmed Terry’s trackpants.
“His time in Newfoundland was a wonderful example of determination,” said Strong. “Newfoundlanders didn’t really respond to him until he got past Corner Brook because people didn’t really understand what he was about. It took time for people to react to the truth of what he was doing.
“He actually wanted me to go with him when he left but I wasn’t able too.”
This year’s event
Held every year in the Harbour Grace, the Terry Fox Run attracted dozens of people from the immediate area, as well as North River, Bay Roberts and parts of Trinity Bay.
All together, the event raised close to $5,000 — a new record for the local run.
Prior to the event, a challenge was issued to the mayors in Bay Roberts and Harbour Grace. That challenge was met as both towns were represented at the run.
Terry Fox died on June 28, 1981 in British Columbia. He was forced to shut the marathon down after just 143 days and some 5,000 kilometres.
While he never completed his goal, the annual Terry Fox Run continues to share the message Terry was spreading 35 years ago. It continues to raise money in hopes of finding a cure for cancer.
“His story is just so pure and good,” said Strong.
Like most who participated, Strong and his family have been touched by cancer. With that in mind, he and his daughter made sure to remember those who have been affected.
“We wore a badge to remember members of my family who had been touched by the disease,” said Strong. “We were there to give our support. Just to continue to uphold his legacy.”
ABOVE: Rev. Bill Strong runs alongside his daughter Holly at St. Francis Field in Harbour Grace on Sept. 20. Strong was taking part in his first Terry Fox Run. In 1980, he accompanied the Canadian hero on his journey across Newfoundland.
RIGHT: This year’s Terry Fox Run in Harbour Grace attracted 44 participants and raised almost $5,000 — a new record for the event.