Winnipeggers follow in Terry Fox’s footsteps
Erin Hill, Contributor
In 1977, Terry Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer and had his right leg amputated. In 1980, he began his Marathon of Hope and ran across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Now, in 2015, with August’s Civic Holiday renamed as “Terry Fox Day,” Winnipeggers will lace up for the 35th annual Terry Fox Run.
The event on Sunday, Sept. 20 will be at Assiniboine Park’s Lyric Theatre field. The upcoming run hits close to home for James Follette, co-organizer of the Winnipeg event.
“It’s a special year for me,” Follette said. “My dad was just diagnosed with cancer, so it means that much more to me and my family.”
Follette has been co-organizing the event with radio host Ace Burpee for the past three years. This year, they’re hoping for the biggest turnout yet.
“Before Ace and I took over, there were only about 150 runners. In our first year, we had about 1,000 and close to 2,000 people last year.”
Registration for this year’s run is at 8:30 a.m., and the race starts at 9:30 a.m. The only cost to participate is a small donation to benefit cancer research. Other activities at the event include a family area with bouncy castles, face painting, performers and a silent auction with prizes donated by local businesses.
When it comes to generating community support, Follette said he doesn’t have any problems.
“We have so many volunteers, I have to actually say no when people ask if they can help out,” he said. “The thing that helps the most is when people participate.”
To get involved, Follette suggests making a team and fundraising. Haley Bancescu, an animal health technology student at Red River College, said her friends have entered a team for the past two years, and each year is more fun than the last.
“We like to compete to see who can raise the most money,” Bancescu said with a laugh. “It’s a bit of a challenge for a great cause.”
Bancescu said this year her team plans to get decked out in pink to stand out and show their support for breast cancer survivors.
“Every year we pick a different cancer to fight,” she said. “Last year was orange for leukemia and the year before that was lime green for lymphoma.”
For this year’s event, Follette said he wants everyone to come out and have a good time, because at the end of the day, it’s the support that matters.
“If 100,000 people came and donated 50 cents, that’d be $50,000 towards the Terry Fox Foundation, which would be fantastic.”