It has been 33 years since Terry Fox took his iconic run across the country, but his mission has never been forgotten.
© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
Vern Hodgins and Jim Bristowe encourage people to participate in the Terry Fox Run, which will be held at Prime Minister’s Park in Prince Albert on Sept. 14.
As every year since, Prince Albert will again host a Terry Fox Run at the Harry Jerome Track at Prime Minister’s Park on Sept. 14, with registration starting at 1 p.m. Pledge forms can be picked up at City Hall, the Alfred Jenkins Field House, the Art Hauser Centre or Canadian Tire.
The run is held in honour of Terry Fox, a Canadian athlete, humanitarian and cancer research activist.
In 1980, after having a leg amputated when diagnosed with osteosarcoma, he decided to run the Marathon of Hope across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
One of the many people to be involved in the Prince Albert event is Jim Bristowe, who first became involved in the 1980s.
“We had people with cancer in our family as well and it was a very good cause,” Bristowe said. “We felt we should get involved and be working with it.”
In addition, Bristowe’s daughter was the recipient of the Terry Fox Youth award in the 1980s.
Bristowe was involved in the run for 12 years when it was still part of the Canadian Cancer Society before taking a break from being an organizer.
“We were able to take advantage of all the volunteers at the Cancer Society had and put them to good use,” he said. “It got pretty big so we needed a lot more volunteers than that. They still helped us but we were able to put our own group together.
“The organization at that time expanded the Terry Fox Run to the point where it was just a fantastic set-up.”
During his time with the organization, Bristowe said Betty Fox, Terry’s mother, came out to Prince Albert to help promote the walk on two separate occasions.
“The local airlines donated a plane to bring her in here from Saskatoon and we brought her here for the whole day, we brought her to other schools, got her involved with the students and all that,” Bristowe said. “My daughter was actually able to participate and spend time with her that day. She was going to university and we picked them up in Saskatoon and brought them back to P.A. and had a super time.
“It was fabulous and she was just fantastic,” he added. “She just came in here and took over the city and did a fabulous presentation with all the schools and got them involved.
“I think that helped us extend the Terry Fox Run because of the fact that she was so dedicated to that run and going out and promoting it.”
The Prince Albert Terry Fox Run has been getting smaller every year, due to a number of reasons.
“Thirty-four years ago, there were no other fundraisers, there was nothing,” organizer Vern Hodgins said. “The Terry Fox Run blazed the trail.”
Last year, there were between 30 to 40 people participating in the city between both the run and the triathlon.
“I don’t ever expect it to be like it was in 1981 -- there were 650 people out at Little Red,” Hodgins said.
He said there are so many other fundraisers in the city during September that the Terry Fox Run is often overlooked.
“They are all really good causes but I want people to remember that about 34 years ago Terry Fox started that kind of fundraising and started these kinds of walks and runs,” Hodgins said. “He had a good idea and I guess you could say these other people are copying his idea for super causes but I want people to know there is still a Terry Fox Run and please come out to it.”
“I would just like to encourage the public to get out there. We have raised an awful lot of money over the years for the Terry Fox Run and I know there are still dedicated people out there that want to get involved,” Bristowe added. “We encourage the public to come on out and help.”
Although the run will be held on Sept. 14, the triathlon will be held the following week due to scheduling conflicts.
Unlike many other organizations that focus on one disease, the Terry Fox Run helps fund research and awareness for numerous cancers, including early lung cancer detection, sub-type management of ovarian cancer, biomarker driven management of prostate cancer, FV-guided surgical trail for oral cancer control, targeted therapy for glioblastoma, Canadian colorectal cancer consortium, childhood leukemia genomics and new targets for metastic breast cancer.
Recently they funded a researcher at the University of Saskatchewan.
“A lot of Terry Fox Run money has gone to cancers that affect young people because that is what got him on the idea is when he saw young people suffering,” Hodgins said.
Since there are so many different forms of cancer, it impacts many Canadians.
“I’m sure that cancer has touched just about every family, not only in our community but right across Canada,” Bristowe said. “What Terry did to bring that awareness about cancer was fantastic. I believe just the name Terry Fox has been able to help promote the Terry Fox Run to the point where it has spread across Canada.”
Since his run in 1980, Terry Fox has become a Canadian hero, with his legend living on for more than 30 years.
“When I was teaching I never pushed the cancer angle because kids would have all kinds of stories about cancer and it could take all your time talking about all their family members who had cancer,” Hodgins said. “I always taught about Terry Fox as being a Canadian hero because I really believe in that.
“Most of the heroes we see are from movies and American, not Canadian,” he added. “Being a young guy who had a physical challenge, he didn’t let that stop him. He had a dream and he stuck with it, with determination and perseverance.”