Canadians Continue the Terry Fox Run
Prince George, B.C. – People across Canada gathered in their communities on Sunday to take part in the 37th annual Terry Fox Run for cancer research.
An estimated 350 people made their way to Community Foundation Park Sunday morning for the Prince George run/walk/ride.
There were many familiar supporters from past years and the bright faces of enthusiastic young people who were taking part in their very first Terry Fox Run. The UNBC Timberwolves were represented, as always, and the entire Prince George Spruce Kings team was there, turning out 75 minutes before the run even began after playing a game (and winning) the night before.
Spruce Kings captain Kyle Johnson says the team was there “to support a really good cause. It’s important we get out in the community to support the community and beyond that the cause that Terry Fox started, and we’re pretty proud to be involved in this event. A lot of players like to make individual donations and just help out and, more so, our presence as a team, just being positive role models at an event like this I think goes a long way.” All 21 Spruce Kings were there.
What goes through Kyle Johnson’s mind when he thinks of Terry Fox? “Courage, the unmatched courage that he had, and to appreciate that every year is important for us.”
Long time patriarch of the Prince George track and field community Tom Masich recalled that it was right here in Prince George that Terry Fox made the decision to run his Marathon of Hope. Masich said that the forerunner of the Labour Day Classic marathon was originally called the Prince George to Boston Marathon. The overall winner got a trip to Boston for the next spring’s Boston Marathon.
Masich recalls, very precisely, that “I got a call on the 31st of August, 1979, about 4 o’clock, from a young fellow called Doug Alward and he said I’m here with my friend Terry Fox to take part in the Prince George to Boston Marathon tomorrow. I didn’t know who Terry was at the time and I invited him over to my house to register. He had on a pair of long pants and I didn’t know what his handicap was. After about half an hour I said “Terry, what’s you handicap?”
“He lifts his pant leg and he’s got an artificial leg and I thought oh my god, what am I getting us into. But he was determined to do the 8 1/2 mile section of the race.” Terry was testing himself to see if he was going to be physically capable of running his planned marathon from one side of Canada to the other.
Masich says, from our location at 7th and Dominion, “our race was 17 miles and the 8 1/2 mile point was just up the road here. He got to the end of the first 8 1/2 and thought I can go another 8 1/2. And he went the full 17.”
“Afterwards at the awards banquet Terry got up and said “If I can do 17 miles a day in Prince George I can do 26 miles a day to run across Canada. And I’m going to run across Canada and raise money for cancer. That’s when he made up his mind, right here in our old Civic Centre building.”
Tom Masich says when he thinks of Terry Fox “I see him as this 18-year-old boy who came to my house to register in the handicapped division. A young man who had bravery written all over his face and his body, and he proved it when he did 17 miles here on a hot day. He did as good a time that day as some of the last-place finishers do nowadays. Just totally impressive, everything about him indicated success. And the only thing that got him was this, pardon the expression, god-damned cancer.”
He also says if Terry had the same kind of cancer today, it’s curable “and would not have taken his life. That’s what’s happened, the money raised has gone into research and consequently we’ve been able to get the handle on cancer in many respects.”
“It is a very poignant day and he’ll be with us the rest of our life.”
Dick Voneugen has taken part in every Terry Fox Run and he says “I’m always thinking, what was I doing when I was 22? And he sort of set the world on fire, you know? And look at it, 37 years, it hasn’t diminished it’s grown, it’s the world over. And what an unselfish act he performed there. He just made it happen. Awesome.”
Tom Masich says “Dick and I have often gone to elementary schools and related the story of Terry being in Prince George and it’s really buoyed the kids into activity.” And he says “in most cases money contributed to various cancer organizations, 85% of it goes into administration and the rest to the program that it was initiated for. Whereas with the Terry Fox Foundation about 15% goes to administration, the other 85 goes into research, and that’s why we are where we are today. Close to a billion dollars has been raised around the world.”
He concludes by saying “Terry’s spirit embodies a true Canadian. You know you’re stronger than anybody else in the world because you’ve got the same philosophy as Terry Fox. The Fox syndrome is right in my heart.”