A Terry Fox story – how a Canadian hero was a common thread in my life

I remember it like it was yesterday–sweaty palms, standing in front of a huge crowd (that was likely only about 50 people) at the Unicity Mall in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I was 10, in grade four, and I had entered a speech contest through my elementary school. The topic of our speeches? Inspirational Canadians. I had chosen Terry Fox. I remember writing that speech out on recipe cards and practicing by reading it to the family dog in the backyard. He had no useful feedback, but served as a very supportive audience.

I remember it like it was yesterday–heart pounding with a big grin on my face. I was 15, in grade nine, and our school band trip had taken us to Thunder Bay, Ontario. I was stepping off the bus at the site of the Terry Fox Memorial. I had wanted to see that statue for what seemed like a lifetime. It was perfect. Just as I had imagined–surrounded by my friends in reverent silence in the shadow of a man who had been not too much older that we were when he made his mark on the hearts of Canadians.

I remember it like it was yesterday–listening to a public service announcement on the radio and feeling my heart tug. It was the first week of September in Whitehorse and there was no one to organize the local Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research. I memorized the number to phone and pulled my car over to call it. Next thing I knew, I was one of a team of two organizing a run that would take place in two weeks. It was wonderfully chaotic. We pulled in help from family, friends and this amazing community. Businesses and organizations stepped up to provide food, sound systems, tents and whatever else we needed! That year we had 75 participants and raised $3,000.

That was 12 years ago. This year, I am once again co-organizing the Terry Fox Run. In the 34 years it has taken place in Whitehorse, the community has raised almost $178,000 for cancer research. Next year, in September of 2020, it will be the 40th anniversary of the first Canadian Terry Fox Run. The run now happens in 25 countries around the world. Through it, school children who didn’t get to watch news coverage all those years ago still learn about one of our Canadian heroes.

This year’s run is on Sept. 15. Registration starts at noon at Rotary Park. The run starts at 1:00pm and loops around the Millennium Trail. For more information, visit the Whitehorse Terry Fox Run Facebook page. Join us and share your Terry Fox story, or get involved. With a full heart, I am stepping down after this year, so Whitehorse needs a run coordinator or coordination team for the 2020 run. For information or to volunteer, call the B.C./Yukon Terry Fox Run office at 604-464-2666. Is it your time to become a part of Terry’s legacy?

Susan Moorlag (right) and Desiree Jay at the TFR registration table in 2015

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