ST. PAUL – It was March 9, 1977, when doctors had to amputate Terry Fox’s right leg due to bone cancer. Fox was just 18 at the time.
A few years later, on April 12, 1980, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Fox began his now-historical run across Canada.
It was called the Marathon of Hope, with the goal of raising money for cancer research. Canadians across the nation learned his name, learned his goal, and in unity, offered their support. But, just outside the City of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Sept. 1, 1980, Fox was forced to stop running – cancer had reached his lungs.
Fox covered 3,339 miles and raised over $1.7 million for cancer research. Then on June 28, 1981, at the age of 22, Fox died.
Among Fox’s famous words were, “It’s one thing to run across Canada, but now, people are really going to know what cancer is,” according to the Terry Fox Foundation’s website. So far, a total of $850 million has been raised to “bring hope and health” to Canadians.
Forty-one years later, people from across Canada have been holding annual Terry Fox Runs. On Sept. 18, a Terry Fox Run was once again organized in St. Paul.
One of the event organizers, Janna Zarowny, says the Terry Fox Run in St. Paul has been going on for about 39 years.
“They started this run to continue Terry Fox’s legacy of a hope for a cure [for cancer],” she says.
Whether it’s “five or 55 people” and no matter what the weather, the run goes ahead.
Doug Craig, who was among those who participated in the run, said he had been diagnosed with cancer in his eye a long time ago. One of his eyebrows is a bit fainter than the other, which is due to the radiation treatment.
Craig says he had an early diagnosis and treatment, “and I kind of came out of it without really any other consequences.” He says there needs to be continued awareness and commitment for cancer research.
“This is just a fantastic way to create awareness and to promote continued research to find a cure,” said Craig. He says that while the Terry Fox Run is about running, many people come to walk or complete the event with other modes of transportation. And, it’s also “a great opportunity to catch up with friends and to socialize.”
Beata Swiegocka, another participant at Sunday’s event, said the Terry Fox Run is a way to respect Terry Fox’s legacy and memory, as well as bring more awareness to cancer.
Several of Swiegocka’s family members have battled cancer.
“We have to make sure we invest in [cancer research] . . . to push the research and find a cure one day,” she said.