SFU honours Terry Fox in annual fundraiser

Participants gathered before the run to hear speeches from president Andrew Petter and Terry Fox Gold Medal winner Jeremy Pearce.

Students, faculty, volunteers, friends, and family congregated at SFU’s three campuses on the morning of September 24 for the annual Terry Fox Day celebrations in order to raise funds for cancer research.

Despite the uncertainty of the weather, participants demonstrated overwhelming enthusiasm as they cheered to support the cause. The day holds special significance for the university, as Fox was an SFU student at age 18.

This year there were over 40 fundraising teams and about 800 participants involved across all three SFU locations, raising a total of $29,960.

During the opening ceremony on Burnaby campus, SFU President Andrew Petter thanked all of the teams, participants, volunteers, and donors for their efforts. He also extended his gratitude to the nearly 30 universities that contributed to the Terry Fox Foundation this year.

Following the opening ceremony, runners and walkers prepared to make the five kilometre trek around Burnaby campus.

This year, Petter awarded the Terry Fox Gold Medal Award to Jeremy Pearce, SFSS at-large representative and a former student athlete. The award is given to an individual who demonstrates courage in the face of adversity. A supportive crowd cheered as Pearce accepted the honour, which includes free tuition at SFU for three semesters, $1,000 cash, a medal, and an honourary plaque.

Pearce spoke to The Peak about what this award means to him: “It’s a humbling experience, to be recognized like this. It’s amazing to have my name on an award that so many great people have had before me.”

Although Pearce now celebrates his accomplishments, he has overcome many difficulties to reach this point. At age 16, he moved out to avoid an unpleasant homelife and got a full-time job.

However, there were more challenges to come. One day, when Pearce was in his apartment, he unknowingly opened the door to thieves who ransacked the place and left him beaten. After being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the robbery, he attempted to commit suicide. He was later found by police and rushed to the hospital.

With hard work and the help of his high school football coach, things began to improve for Pearce, leading to an SFU scholarship offer. Currently pursuing a joint major in criminology and sociology with a minor in legal studies, he is a promising athlete who maintains excellent grades and is employed by the SFU Forensic Entomology Lab. After completing his degree, he hopes to start a career in law enforcement.

Pearce is also heavily involved in his community. He volunteers with Big Brothers, is a coach for the Special Olympics, and founded SFU Team Up — a program that connects athletes and students while also giving back to the community. In just a year, Pearce has put together various fundraisers and raised over $19,000 for local charities.

When asked what advice he would give to anyone facing hardships, Pearce answered, “It will get better. Just surround yourself with positive people and don’t give up.”

The spirit associated with this award — and inspired by Terry Fox — gains strength every year, with more universities than ever before contributing to improve the lives of cancer patients. To date, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $650 million for cancer research.