Tribute to the Marathon of Hope
The annual Terry Fox Run had the same vibe Sunday morning as it has since Tillsonburg’s first Terry Fox Run in 1981.
Energetic, inspirational music played at the Tillsonburg Soccer Park as a group of more than 150 people prepared to walk, run, or ride one of the three routes in town – 3km, 5km and 10km as teams and individuals.
Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar thanked everyone for their participation Sunday, “On behalf of local Council and especially our citizens who continue to gain value and hope from your participation, I thank you all.”
Celebrating the 39th anniversary of Terry Fox’s 1980 Marathon of Hope, which saw Terry run 5,373 km in 143 days, Canadians continue to honour his perseverance through pain, weather, personal doubt and frustration with nearly 10,000 fundraising events nationwide.
“Today, local residents join with fellow Canadians across the nation, that Terry helped unite, by taking part at the Tillsonburg Terry Fox Run,” said Molnar. “Your contribution will ensure that cancer research continues to move closer to a cure every day.”
“I am very, very happy with the turnout,” said Tillsonburg Terry Fox Run co-organizer Shelley Imbeault, noting they typically have about 150 participants, and this year more than half of that had number had pre-registered. “It’s been a great turnout this year.”
A surprise addition to this year’s Terry Fox Run were swimmers from the University of Guelph men’s and women’s swim teams, lifting the overall numbers by 30-plus.
“When the bus pulled up, we knew we had it,” Imbeault smiled.
The dryland training university swimmers, who were camping in Port Burwell on the weekend, also added to the fundraising total which surpassed $20,000 this year, which goes to the Terry Fox Foundation and cancer research.
The routes stayed the same as last year, but there was a new element to the 2019 Terry Fox Run – a bagpiper, who played at the start of the Run, and whenever participants came back to the finish area. He was joined at the finish line by a very enthusiastic cheering squad.
“I love bagpipes, so it worked out well,” Imbeault smiled, crediting one of a volunteer for bringing the bagpiper.
There were more changes behind the scenes. Anne Ploss, who had organized the last 10-plus Terry Fox Runs in Tillsonburg, handed over the role of primary organizer to a team of three from the local Terry Fox committee – Imbeault, Hillary Anderson, and Rachel Winters.
“I had done nothing outside of registration table, that was my job and that’s all I have ever done up until this year,” said Imbeault.
With planning starting in March, the challenge was “trying to fill Anne’s shoes,” she said.
“She (Ploss) did everything… everything up until March basically.”
Reorganizing the volunteer committee was a bit of a challenge as the new conveners ‘learned the ropes.’
“She (Ploss) made it look easy. It’s a lot harder than she made it look. I will say that Anne’s been great, she’s been in contact with us the entire six months that we’ve been going.”
Next year’s Terry Fox, which will be the 40th Run nationally, should be a big year, said Imbeault, and the committee plans to start organizing as early as February.