The day Terry Fox started the Marathon of Hope, April 12, 1980, Doug Vader was on his way to a restaurant association meeting listening to the news coverage about Fox on the radio.
He knew then that he would have to get involved, one way or another, with the cause and rally Fox’s home town behind him.
“My goal was to let Terry know that Port Coquitlam was behind him and to let Port Coquitlam know what Terry was doing,” Vader said.
So he went to the Cancer Society and asked what he could do.
“How much money do you want to raise,” he remembers them asking in return. Vader decided on $100,000.
From there he went back to Port Coquitlam and got approval from the Fox family as well as city hall and became the official fundraiser in Port Coquitlam, opening the Terry Fox hot line office and setting up donation boxes around the city.
He soon became close friends with the Foxes and joined Terry during what would be the last week of his run, returning to Port Coquitlam, and the Foxs, just as they were receiving the news that Terry’s cancer had returned.
Vader booked their flights to Thunder Bay.
In the months after, while Fox was once again battling cancer, Vader was there opening fan mail, taking phone calls from the premier and arranging for Fox to go to a BC Lions game.
Vader said he remembers opening a letter that had a donation cheque earmarked for Fox only, not the Cancer Society.
“I passed it to Terry and he passed it back to me and said no. He never ever took a penny for himself,” Vader said. “Another thing he never gave into, and to this day, there is no corporate sponsorship, Terry didn’t go for that.”
Vader said in English Bay all Fox had to do was stand beside a Ford Mustang and it was his, but he wouldn’t do it.
“That’s why Terry is so unique today,” Vader said.
Vader, who now lives in Campbell River, was one of only three non-family members to attend Fox’s graveside ceremony.
Since then he has been involved in the annual Terry Fox runs and two years ago received a plaque from the Canadian Cancer Society recognizing 35 years of service.
For the 37th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, the Royal BC Museum in Victoria is hosting the travelling Terry Fox exhibition “Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada,” that was produced by the Canadian Museum of History in partnership with the Terry Fox Centre.
The exhibit will be in Victoria April 12-Oct. 1, 2017.