The year was 1980. Pierre Trudeau won Canada’s federal election; Ronald Reagan became president of the United States; Wayne Gretzky played his first NHL game; Mark David Chapman assassinated John Lennon; Post-It Notes were invented, and…
Terry Fox began his Marathon for Hope.
Every year since, Canadians have ran for — and raised money toward — the Terry Fox Foundation. This year, on September 20th, the run is going virtual. What that means is registrants can participate by walking, running, cycling, rollerblading from wherever and for however long one wishes. Around your neighbourhood, backyard, down the street or around the block. Up to you. The tagline: One Day. Your Way.
In Invermere, Donna Scheffer is the undeniable face of the run. Her friends call her Mrs. Fox. She’s the virtual run’s co-coordinator. “Ever since Terry first did the run, it’s been near and dear to my heart,” said Scheffer who was living in Port Coquitlam when Terry started.
She got involved 25 years ago while living in Trail. “A friend of mine asked me to be a route marshal. Three years later, I participated for the first time myself. That year, I raised $180.” Since, she alone has raised over $40,000. This year, her goal is to beat last year’s tally of $6,659. At the time of this writing she was at roughly $5,000.
Donna’s own personal mission for working so passionately with the Terry Fox Foundation is threefold: promote – lawn signs, posters, banners; educate – Scheffer said most people for example don’t know that the Terry Fox Run has no connection to the Canadian Cancer Society; encourage participation – unlike in past years she along with friends won’t be hosting a charity barbecue outside Valley Foods due to COVID-19. “As long as I am able, I’ll continue to do my part to see Terry’s dream to put an end to cancer come true.”
In 1977, Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg and had his leg amputated 15 centimetres above the knee. While in hospital, Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He called it the Marathon of Hope. The objective: inform Canadians of the importance of finding a cure for cancer. Terry ran an average of 42 kilometres every day for 143 days. Terry was forced to end his run on September 1st, 1980 when the cancer spread to his lungs. By February 1981, the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope fund totalled $24.17 million. Terry died in June 1981.
The foundation’s mission is to maintain the vision and principles of Terry Fox while raising money for cancer research through the annual Terry Fox Run, Terry Fox School Run, as well as via memoriam donations and planned giving.
Last year alone, $26.6 million was raised. Nearly five million more than in 2018. For every dollar raised, 79 cents went directly toward 47 projects, 435 researchers and 95 different institutions. There’s detailed lists published on terryfox.org showing where the money goes. By cancer type, blood and prostate cancer each received $4.3 million. By cancer topic, precision medicine received $7.6 million, cancer biology $6.4million.
To register or make pledge, visit terryfox.org.