Terry Fox Run goes virtual for 2020

Terry's brother Fred Fox came to Kingston, Gananoque, and TLTI last year to help promote the annual Terry Fox Run. Although COVID-19 has forced this year's event to be held virtually, he and the organization will still be backing every participant and donor on September 20. Lorraine Payette/For Postmedia Network jpg, KI

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On September 1, 1980, Terry Fox had to stop running. The activity had become too much for him, his body would no longer tolerate it, and he found himself loaded into an ambulance in Thunder Bay unable to go any farther.

“I’ve said to people before that I’m going to do my very best to make it, I’m not going to give up,” he said at the time. “But I might not make it… if I don’t, the Marathon of Hope better continue.”

This time, though, he didn’t make it. This time it was too much, and he knew it.

“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue,” he said. “It’s got to keep going.”

We lost Terry on June 28, 1981, but we listened. With the help of the Fox family and so many others, the Terry Fox Foundation went out and through sheer determination, they had raised more than $750 million by the end of August 2017. Every penny has gone for worldwide cancer research, and every day people hold their breath as we get closer to a cure.

This year is the 40th Terry Fox Run, and things have changed dramatically. COVID-19 has essentially brought the world to a standstill, knocked everything on its head, and shut down all kinds of events. But nothing can stop the spirit of Terry Fox.

“Due to public health concerns, we will participate in spirit, not in person this year,” according to  terryfox.org. “On Sunday, September 20th, we ask that you continue to support cancer research by participating in and fundraising for your Virtual Run. We leave it up to you to choose how to celebrate your Terry Fox effort – walk, run, dance, hike – on a favourite route and with your favourite people. Most importantly, we need you to honour the day by fundraising for cancer research.”

Running under the theme of “One Day, Your Way” the virtual run is open to any expression people wish to use. For every Canadian, there is a unique and wonderful way to celebrate Terry Fox and to raise funds. One group is considering a 2,500 Km motorcycle run starting in Montreal and ending in Thunder Bay. Others are looking at entirely on-line activities, and many are still planning out exactly what they want to do.

“Silent auction items and donations are needed this year more than ever,” Lisa Marie Vincent, long time run organizer from the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands (TLTL), said. “Your generosity is always appreciated more than I can explain. Also, we are campaigning for donations for the 40th Anniversary of the Terry Fox Run. Yes, 40 years. It has been a tough year so we would be thankful for any amount. Like Terry said, ‘If you’ve given a dollar, you are part of the Marathon of Hope.’ We are fighting this heartless disease called cancer, and Foxers will win this Battle. Please connect with me if you would like to donate to this amazing cause, we can all agree that Terry Fox was and is a Canadian treasure and hero.”

Marathon of Hope 40th Anniversary merchandise is available to order. Items include cotton t-shirts (unisex sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL); dri-fit shirt (men and women sizes S, M, L, XL at $30 each); hoodie, navy (unisex sizes S, M, L, XL at $70 each); hat, navy (one size, unisex at $30 each); toque, navy (one size, unisex at $30 each); and face mask – one size (unisex at $15 each (designs will be chosen randomly)). Items will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be ordered by calling 705-326-1404 or by e-mail at orilliaterryfoxrun@rogers.co.

“This year’s 40th Terry Fox Run is virtual, but what can I do?” Thomas Hopkins, the social media coordinator for the Terry Fox Run TLTI, said. “All events in the Thousand Islands were to be moved over the Rockport Recreation Hall this year, but plans changed quickly.

“We will still be going on September 20, but on the virtual run, participants and groups are collecting donations for the Terry Fox Foundation through the app or online at terryfox.org. The Terry Fox Run in the Leeds and Thousand Islands will give running totals throughout the day on our Facebook page with participants uploading their totals. Additionally, participants will be uploading images or videos of themselves running, walking, etc., by themselves or with friends and family.”

For those who wish to donate on the day of the event, e-mail terryfoxtlti@gmail.com. Donations will be announced at the donor’s request, and the account will be monitored by Vincent and Hopkins. It is also suggested that people join Terry Fox Run Leeds and Thousand Islands on Facebook for the latest information and interesting facts.

“I’m not a dreamer, and I’m not saying this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles,” said Fox. “I have too.”