I’m not quite sure when I was first introduced to the Terry Fox Run. Whenever it was, it became an annual tradition during my school years. I vaguely remember pledge sheets and a ceremonial walk around the school field while I was in junior high. I have much stronger memories of my high school’s Terry Fox Run.
Though the run takes place at many schools, my high school adopted it as if it was our own. Teachers began talking about it during the first week of school. Fundraising forms were distributed, and students were challenged to raise as much money as possible.
We had our first period off to take part in the run. For some reason, the school had developed a tradition of wearing pyjamas to the run. I never understood the connection. I was too self-conscious to wear pyjamas, but many of my classmates and teachers were not. It was not uncommon for my teacher to be wearing a bathrobe as she conducted class later in the day.
I participated in the run along with everyone else. We lined up in an orderly fashion and filed out of the school. The weather, at this time, was always brisk. Leaves crunched under our feet as we walked around the neighbourhood and through the park. Along the way, we passed signs representing each province, symbolic of a journey across Canada.
When we arrived back at the school we were served a breakfast of pancakes or muffins. A DJ played music in the field as we milled around, delaying the time until we had to head back to class.
Though I liked getting out of class, I liked the pancakes, and I liked the DJ, the real reason for the Terry Fox Run was about more than just those things.
As everyone knows, Terry Fox was an ordinary person who wanted to run across Canada 30 years ago to raise money for cancer research. He had been diagnosed with the disease himself, and lost his right leg. He began his journey in St. John’s, Newfoundland, but had to end it in Thunder Bay, Ontario when his cancer spread.
Terry Fox’s legacy continues to live on, as every year people participate in the run around Canada and around the world. According to the Terry Fox Foundation website, over $600 million has been raised for cancer research.
Cancer kills indiscriminately. It doesn’t care how big, how old, or how healthy you are. It doesn’t care if you have a loving family and friends. It doesn’t care if you have a promising future.
While cancer has robbed many of their futures, with research, we can turn the tables and conquer it. Every step and every dollar puts us closer to that goal. It’s a disease we can fight, and something worth fighting for.