Strong pays trib­ute to Terry Fox

Lo­cal priest re­mem­bers Cana­dian hero, par­tic­i­pates in first Terry Fox Run

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­

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.

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