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Terry Fox Run marks milestone anniversary – virtually

September 11, 2020   ·   0 Comments

This September 20, Aurorans were due to lace up and head outdoors to mark the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope by taking part in Terry Fox Runs held across the country.

While in-person, communal gatherings to pay tribute to Fox and continue his efforts to raise millions of dollars for cancer research will have to wait due to COVID-19, Hope is set to carry on virtually this year.

“One Day. Your Way” is the theme of this year’s Terry Fox Virtual Run and you can help by running, walking, or cycling around your community.

“On Sunday September 20, we ask that you continue to support cancer research by participating in and fundraising for your Virtual Run,” says The Terry Fox Foundation. “We leave it up to you to choose how to celebrate your Terry Fox effort – walk, run, dance, hike – on a favourite route and with your favourite people. Most importantly, we need you to honour the day by fundraising for cancer research.

“Today, 40 years later, we’re in a year that’s challenging us more than we could have ever expected. We have to think outside the box to make the best of our 2020 participation. We can’t think of anything that Terry would appreciate more.”

Here in Aurora, fundraising and organization efforts are being carried out by Greg Smith and Robin Taylor Smith.

The couple have long been involved with the local run, which has, in recent years, taken place at the Aurora Seniors’ Centre and Community Arboretum.

Although they have participated in numerous events in the past, this is their first year at the helm.

“Cancer has definitely affected both [sides] of our family,” says Greg, who lost his father to lung cancer, the same diagnosis which took Robin’s brother at the age of just 34. “We decided we wanted to help out and keep moving it forward.”

Over the past seven years, Smith has served as emcee of the event and has helped shape its recent growth.

This year, present circumstances have made organization a challenge, but they are forging ahead.

“The COVID challenge is very interesting and all the [Foundation] asks is that we try like Terry and persevere through an unusual year,” says Greg. “The tagline they are using is ‘One Day. Your Way’ and the idea is they want participants to unite in spirit and not just in person. The concept is wherever you are around your neighbourhood, backyard, or even down the street, you walk, ride or run.”

Greg and Robin are planning to take a long walk to participate but if you’re not able to get out, or if you simply want to support the cause, many individuals are donating $40 in honour of 40th anniversary of the marathon by visiting and finding their local walk or favourite registered participant.

“We plan to take our dogs and go for a nice long walk to just reflect on Terry Fox and what he has meant – and he is, in my opinion, the greatest Canadian of all time,” says Greg. “I never really had given it a lot of thought until this year. When I actually followed his path and the number of days running until he had to give up his Marathon of Hope in northern Ontario, when you realize that day after day after day he ran 26 miles, that is a marathon every single day. Just the sheer magnitude of that – I know of people who participate in marathons and, after they run it, it takes time for them to recover. These are able-bodied people with two legs and it is just quite incredible the determination that this man had and I think his impact on Canada is never going to go away. His legacy will live on.

“The sad part is we’re not going to all be able to get together, but the good part of it is it is not early in the morning on Sunday, people can participate at their leisure, whatever time and however they see fit, and I think that that provides an opportunity for a lot of new people to participate and be involved and it can be just something as simple as signing up, making a donation and going for a walk with your family, and maybe talking a little bit about Terry Fox, his legacy. This year’s hashtag is #tryliketerry and I think that is a message for all people: no matter what you do, give it your best shot and give it a try.”

By Brock Weir



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