Centennial Park was a bit windy and cold on Sunday morning, but that couldn’t stop the young and old alike from gathering in Centennial Park to participate in the 39th annual Terry Fox Run.
A total of 88 people participated in the run this year, raising $3,538.10 for the Terry Fox Foundation. For every dollar donated to the foundation, $0.82 is put towards cancer research.
This year’s run was put on in 100 Mile House by new organizers, Burnis and Michelle Taylor. The five-kilometre and one-kilometre runs got started at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15.
“We were quite happy and I mean, it’s only going to get better,” said Burnis of the couple’s first year organizing the run in 100 Mile House. The Taylors plan to continue organizing next year, too. They took on the organization this year after the community was seeking new leadership for the run back in June.
“Everything’s been great. The donations were excellent. We’ve got a nice turnout,” said Burnis, adding that his wife Michelle previously worked with the Terry Fox Foundation in Gabriola Island. “Both of our mothers have passed away due to cancer.”
Burnis began Sunday’s event with a talk about the young man who ran a marathon a day for 5,373 km to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Fox’s run began in St. John’s, N.L. on April 12, 1980, but after 143 days, he was forced to stop running outside Thunder Bay, Ontario when cancer spread to his lungs.
“An entire nation was stunned and sad,” said Burnis, remembering when Terry Fox passed away on June 28, 1981 at the age of 22. “His legacy lives on forever.”
Burnis once met the man who started the Marathon of Hope back in 1981. When Burnis met Terry Fox, he was only 24 years old himself.
“Me and nine of my buddies drove 300 miles from our hometown to St. Johns and we watched him dip his toe and start his run, then we ran with him for the first 25 kilometres,” he recalled. “I shook hands with him and we talked like you would normally do. Then he started his run and we followed behind.”
Both Burnis and Michelle were optimistic about the event despite the last minute cancellations of an MC and a few of the day’s scheduled performers. “It’s a little cold [out] but it’s for a good cause,” said Michelle.
Wade Balbirnie and his German Shepherd Marley were the first participants to finish Sunday’s run. The pair have been running together for over seven years. Marley even rode in a stroller as a puppy during her first year in the Terry Fox Run.
“We’ve always run it as a family,” said Balbirnie, who attended with his wife Denise and their three teenage children. “We’ve got two daughters walking and a son as well. The girls are doing it as a team because one of our teammates has cancer.”
He explained that his family has been personally affected by cancer and runs together each year for that reason.
Sandi Middleton travelled all the way from 150 Mile House to attend the Terry Fox Run with her seven-year-old dog Chica and their long-time friend, Dianne Peterson.
Middleton is 71 and has participated in the Terry Fox Run every year since 1981. Middleton was once Peterson’s dorm parent in Williams Lake and the two women have been friends ever since.
“The year my husband died, five years ago, I did it in my own yard,” she said, explaining that she and her granddaughter ran in her backyard because her husband had passed away from cancer only a few days earlier. The two felt they couldn’t miss out on participating in their own way.
“When Terry first started his run our family in Ontario were out to cheer him on,” Middleton recalled. “He’s our family hero. My grandchildren used to always do [the run] with me but they’ve all grown up and moved away now.”
Middleton is considering taking on the organization of the Terry Fox Run for herself in Williams Lake since the city did not hold a run this year.
At Sunday’s event in 100 Mile House, BC Ambulance was on-site to ensure everyone’s safety. The 100 Mile Lion’s Club was also at the park to provide hot dogs, fruits, and refreshments following the run.
Donations were made by Safeway, Save-on-Foods, Tim Hortons, the 108 Supermarket, and the 99 Mile Supermarket, with all the day’s proceeds going to support the Terry Fox Foundation.