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Terry Fox Run returns in September - with a twist

Forty years ago, on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope.

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He made no promises that his efforts would lead to a cure for cancer, and he did not know how Canadians would respond to his request for help.


“I believe in miracles. I have to,” Fox wrote. “Somewhere the hurting has to stop.”

Canada answered his plea with Terry Fox Runs in hundreds of communities, including Tillsonburg in 1981, at thousands of schools – including local elementary schools and Glendale High School – and millions of supporters across the country.

That tradition continues in 2020, although in a COVID-19 pandemic environment, there are some changes for this year’s Terry Fox Run.


Starting May 20th, the Terry Fox Foundation kicked off fundraising for its ‘Virtual’ Terry Fox Run on Sept. 20, 2020 – Terry Fox Run 2020… One Day… Your Way, which will be supported by 650 Canadian communities – including Tillsonburg.

The Foundation is urging all Canadians to register for this year’s Virtual Run by visiting

The term ‘virtual’ has led to some confusion for potential participants – but it’s a simple concept when explained.

“It’s been a little slow for us, a lot of people just didn’t understand what we meant when we said Virtual Run,” said Shelley Imbeault, coordinator of the Tillsonburg Terry Fox Run.

“It’s not much different from an actual Run, except that we’re all not going to be together. That’s the only difference. We’re asking everyone to come out and participate in doing ANY run – on their own – throughout the day (Sept. 20).

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“I’m hoping that we will see it pick up a little bit,” said Imbeault, “and at least get the same participants that we did last year, for sure.”

Local organizers were originally planning to suggest some Terry Fox Run routes, but decided against it.

“Because we do not want people gathering, we decided against that. So we’re just asking for everyone to get out there, get a little exercise. Hopefully they will!

“I’m also hoping people will send me photos. Upload them to Facebook, we want to see everyone out and about in their Terry Fox gear.”

Sharing photos, she said, will help give it a ‘community feeling.’

Last year, the Tillsonburg Terry Fox Run, which typically has about 150 participants, raised just under $20,000.

“It was up approximately $4,000 over the year before,” Imbeault noted.

A team of Guelph University students helped push up last year’s fundraising total, signing up the day before the 2019 Run.

“They had been fundraising already, but they weren’t sure where they were going to do it,” said Imbeault, noting the team had been training in Port Burwell. “They hopped on a bus and said, Tillsonburg’s closest, let’s go there. I found out first thing in the morning.”

Fundraising will be done through the Terry Fox Run website.

“Everyone signs up on the main website and they choose their Run site. Tillsonburg is on the list. Choose that, and they can be added to our list.”

There is also a direct link to the Tillsonburg Terry Fox Run on their Facebook page.

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“It should automatically fill in Tillsonburg for them, but if they need to contact me directly, Facebook is the best way – send a quick message through Facebook.”

Imbeault said she hopes school Runs also return this year – in some form – but noted that will depend on whether schools are back in September.

“We’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants on that one,” she smiled.

Jim Kramer at the 2019 Tillsonburg Terry Fox Run. (Chris Abbott/Tillsonburg News) jpg, TN
40th Anniversary Gear

“This year they held a contest to see what the design would be for the 40th Anniversary T-shirts. That’s actually not being released until the end of June, and we’ll find out who won. And also see the new design.

“You can order the T-shirts at, or if you sign up, you have the option to purchase a T-shirt.”

All cancer survivors who sign up will receive a free red T-shirt.

Adidas re-launched a shoe using the design of the original running shoes that Terry Fox wore, however, Imbeault noted the limited edition shoes sold out in a matter of minutes.

“I was trying to buy a pair. I don’t think they were expecting it to sell out as quickly as it did. It was like seven minutes.”

Adidas Canada announced a limited edition nine-piece collection of Terry Fox merchandise, including the release of Fox’s original ‘Orion’ running shoes. The T-shirt design belongs to Adidas, not the Terry Fox Foundation. Net proceeds from the collection will go to the Terry Fox Foundation. In addition, those who register in June will be automatically entered into a draw to win a pair of limited edition shoes, said Imbeault.

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“The Foundation is honoured that Adidas Canada continues their support with such an incredible initiative,” said Ara Sahakian, the Foundation’s interim executive director, in a media release. “Forty years after Terry’s run, the Fox family and Adidas have given Canadians the exciting opportunity to not only own something that speaks to all the best in all of us, but to also support Terry’s mission to find a cure for all cancers.

“Terry once said, ‘Anything is possible if you try,'” Sahakian noted. “In 2020, a year where we are all learning to live life differently, there is only one way forward for the Terry Fox Foundation: Terry’s way. We have to try.”

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