When Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope back in April 1980, his goal was to raise one dollar from every Canadian to fight cancer.
Now, 43 years later, it’s rather apparent that lofty goal at the time was a little bit short of the mark -- had he said $25 for every Canadian, it would have been far more accurate.
With over $850 million raised for cancer research since the Marathon began, it’s safe to say Fox’s legacy is nothing short of magical, with the 2023 edition of the Terry Fox Run bolstering that incredible total even further.
On Sunday morning, Moose Jaw did its part, with close to 100 participants gathering at the Vanier Collegiate field to make their way through five-kilometre and 10-kilometre loops through the city, all with the goal of raising funds while also spreading cancer awareness.
“I’m honestly thrilled with the number of people who showed up, it just feels like a lot more than we had last year and that’s what we’re looking for, having lots of participation,” said Moose Jaw Terry Fox Run organizer Stephanie Meyer. “That’s what the Terry Fox Foundation is focussed on, having the community tackle a task that one person tried… You’ve seen over the years that cancer takes the whole community to deal with, so it’s always nice to see this kind of support.”
Given the prevalence of cancer in all forms, many folks taking part have dealt with the disease in one way or another. That’s one factor that makes the Terry Fox Run what it is, even after so many years.
“With cancer, it touches everyone in their own way and at their own level and experience,” Meyer said. “The shared sense of knowing that it is so daunting and so hard to deal with for anyone, you just want to be there to help support any way you can. That’s still alive and well in the community.”
Fox’s legend is well known. At age 18 he developed osteosarcoma in his right knee and eventually had much of his leg amputated. Three years later, he began the Marathon of Hope with the goal of running across Canada, covering a marathon a day. While the project had a slow reception at the beginning, once word got out what he was trying to accomplish, crowds and support grew until he was a bona fide national celebrity.
Fox had raised the equivalent of $5.1 million in 2023 dollars when the cancer spread to his lungs and forced him to abandon the Marathon just outside of Thunder Bay, and Fox would die less than a year later.
Then things took off in earnest. By the end of 1981, the Terry Fox Foundation had raised over $25 million and in subsequent years his celebrity grew worldwide, until the Terry Fox Run became a global phenomenon that continues to this day.
“I want to say there are over 700 run sites going just today, and when you think about how many small communities are involved, they really drive it home how important it is to have that support,” Meyer said. “Sometimes the biggest fundraising effort comes from smaller places and I know our fundraising efforts have been improving year over year the last five years, so you just want to keep going with it.”
Meyer had a basic goal of $2,500 for the Moose Jaw run, but expected the actual total to touch around $7,000 if things went well.
“That would be really nice, but we’ll see what happens and whatever we raise will be fantastic,” she said.
For more on the Terry Fox Run and Terry Fox Foundation, visit www.terryfox.org.