The Terry Fox Run is a fun, family celebration said Tillsonburg event organizer Anne Ploss Sunday, in the final assembly before an estimated 140 runners and bikers headed off to their various start lines.
But it is more than that the event organizer for the 33rd annual event in Tillsonburg continued, it is also a time for serious reflection on those lost to cancer, and those struggling in their own battle against the disease.
“We do this for them,” Ploss said.
Ploss knows of what she spoke on a very personal level. Her husband was affected, but has been cancer free for the past 11 years.
“And we just lost my husband’s father to cancer last month.”
Brenda Schaas knows only too well the disease’s broad-based effects, the dramatic change between rolling contentedly along in day-to-day life and a new reality a cancer diagnosis – for her, August 28 - creates.
“You don’t think about it until you are having to deal with it,” she said in the comparative calm following the field’s departure.
Schaas was not running this year she explained almost apologetically, due to the fact she’s undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
“This is my time to recover, down the road will be my time to give back.”
And in the meantime, Schaas is profoundly grateful to those who are supporting the battle against cancer, not only through the Terry Fox Run, but throughout the year.
“It is overwhelming and surprising to see how much volunteers do for you,” she said, noting contributions ranging through those who drive her to treatment, to those who stop by to offer cookies during.
“When you do have to deal with it, it’s nice to see how much support is out there, not just from family and friends, but total strangers.
Schaas does remember Terry Fox’s original Marathon of Hope, and is appreciative of his vision, determination and legacy on some many levels, including its educational/fundraising component in public schools, which her three children have been exposed to.
“He helped the kids understand what mom was going to have to go through.
“I don’t think he had an inkling what he was going to bring about,” Schaas added in conclusion. “But to have all this come of that is amazing.”
Fox’s initial objective was to inform Canadians of the importance of finding a cure for Canada. His physical marathon was in 1980, when he covered an average of 42 kilometres per day for 143 days before cancer which claimed his right leg, spread to his lungs and stopped his journey just east of Thunder Bay. By February of the following year he realized his goal of raising $1 for every Canadian with a fund totalling over $24 million. He died in June, 1981, but his living legacy of hope has raised over $600 million worldwide for cancer research. Of note is the fact 84 cents of every dollar raised goes to research.
Tillsonburg’s combined effort will contribute another $8,200 to the cause confirmed Ploss Wednesday, a $400 increase from last year.
“We are really, really happy,” she said, extending thanks to all (runners, volunteers, sponsors and contributors) for the event. “I am very thankful.”