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Terry Fox Run scheduled for Sun., Sept. 17 in Campbell River

Now in its 43rd year, event is held by 10,000 schools across Canada
Terry Fox during his Marathon of Hope run in 1980. (Canadian Press photo)

On a cold day in spring 1980, Terry Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean beginning his Marathon of Hope. As a young child in Saskatchewan, Dr. Tanya Flood was invested in the story with her family.

“It was so inspiring,” said Flood, who has helped organize the Terry Fox Run in Campbell River, set to be held on Sun., Sept 17, for the past decade. “The continual updates on where he was in the country and how much he had raised and the other people who would join him in the run.”

Affected by bone cancer in 1977, Fox decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. With a goal of one dollar for every Canadian in the country at the time to be raised, Fox ran an average of 42 kilometres for 143 days, before having to stop in Thunder Bay, Ont, on September 1, 1980. The bone cancer had spread to his lungs. Despite his goal being fulfilled by donations in Feb. 1981, Fox passed away that June.

Some 43 years later, the Terry Fox Run is put on by 10,000 schools nationwide, in cities and in other parts of the world. Now organized by the Terry Fox Foundation, the run is one of the largest charitable events for cancer research. Since the establishment of the Terry Fox Research Institute in 2007, investments in world class scientific and clinical research accelerates discoveries for patients and their families.

To date, over $850 million in cancer research has been donated to the Foundation. Some of the work made by the 385 researchers in the Research Institute include early detection models.

“Early detection increases survival rates, because the treatments are much more effective early,” said Flood, who has been involved in the run, as an organizer or participant for the past 30 years. “Twenty-one thousand Canadians die from lung cancer every year. So that’s technically two every hour. With a new predictive model that was founded by the foundation, 77 per cent of lung tumours can be detected.”

The run will start on 9 a.m. at Frank James Park in Willow Point, running the length of the Seawalk to Rotary Park. Then participants - who can run, walk, jog or bike - turn around to head back to Frank James Park.

A volunteer run event, there will be between 30 and 40 volunteers to make the event happen, said Flood. And Flood says there are event participants who can’t make it to the run on Sunday, who will be doing it another way.

“I have two participants who have ran in the event every year in Campbell River,” said Flood. “They are going on a cruise and unable to run it here. But they got their t-shirts ahead of time, and are getting everyone on their cruise ship to do it next Sunday.”