By: Paige Riding, News Writer
At the 39th Annual Terry Fox Run at the SFU Burnaby campus, Convocation Mall hums with anticipation as a hefty group of runners and walkers stood together to fight against cancer. SFU hosts the event every year in honour of former student Terry Fox, the renowned athlete who became world-famous during his Marathon of Hope. Fox aimed to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research on a prosthetic leg that he was given after his leg was amputated. Though Fox didn’t make it all the way across Canada due to the recurrence of his cancer, his impact on cancer research was much bigger than just that one run — his Marathon of Hope has continued every year since.
SFU president and vice chancellor Andrew Petter says a few words before the run begins. At a podium, Petter reports that over 150 volunteers are involved in the annual run this year. Despite the run conflicting with the Climate Strike, the turnout is impressive. With over $9,000 raised in funds for the 2019 run, SFU community members proved that they do not intend to slow down in the race to beat this devastating disease.
“I love this event not only because it brings out such great, enthusiastic people, but because it speaks to the spirit of SFU. It really shows that we are Canada’s engaged university, and that we are prepared to come together to raise funds for cancer research,” Petter says. His voice booms from the speakers facing the participants. Sunlight peeks through the bars overhead, promising great weather for the outdoor run.
After the speech, the coveted SFU Terry Fox Gold Medal is awarded. It includes a plaque, $5,000, and a medal awarded to SFU undergraduate students who “demonstrated those personal qualities of courage in adversity and dedication to society,” according to SFU’s website. Two women, Laura Gutierrez and Anne Peirce, are awarded by Andrew Petter. This is the first year since 2001 that there were two recipients of the award.
Following the awards, the MCs invite up the SFU cheer team and warm-up leader to get the crowd going. Pop artist Lizzo begins to blare over the speakers, encouraging the crowd to move. Once the warm-up exercises finish up, it’s time to run. The group moves to start by the Terry Fox statue that overlooks the AQ reflection pool. Around 1 p.m., the run starts.
As the group passes by the Autumn trees changing colours all around Burnaby campus, the pleasantly surprising blue sky above and warm weather urges the race along. Runners and walkers old and young followed the route. Some participants brought their furry friends along for the fun. Signs with photos and facts about Fox encouraged the runners along the route. The energy of the diverse group of participants was high as many people from all walks of life gathered for the cause. The run concluded at Terry Fox Field with participants of the event boasting sweat on their brows and smiles on their faces.
“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me,” Fox said during the Marathon of Hope back in 1980.
To learn more about the cause and why it matters to run, visit the Terry Fox Foundation website. The Marathon of Hope continues each September as participants carry on the tradition, each for their own reasons. With over $170 million raised by the Terry Fox Foundation, this past SFU student’s legacy lives on through continuous research working towards a cure.