September 25, 2020

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Bicycles, rollerblades, wheelchairs and feet were just some of the forms of transportation at this year’s sixth annual Terry Fox Run on Sept. 20 in Kitchener. There were approximately 152 participants and the run raised about $14,460 for cancer research, according to Margaret Dickson, the marketing manager for Sportsworld and the lead organizer of the Kitchener event.

Participants of the run met in a parking lot at the corner of King Street and Sportsworld Drive on the warm, sunny morning. The event began with registration and opening ceremonies. Dickson spoke about Terry Fox and his influence, before handing the mike off to Doug Ertel, a cancer survivor and run participant. Ertel was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2011. After surgery, which replaced the bones in his right leg from his hip to his knee, Ertel has been cancer free for a year. According to him, his optimism and willpower was what got him through the ordeal.

“The doctor said, ‘hopefully you get out of this walking with a cane,’” Ertel said in his speech. “‘Doc, I don’t think that’s good enough because I’ve jogged horses for 30 years,’ I told him. ‘Within a year I’ll be back jogging horses.’ He looked at me and didn’t say nothing.” Within the year Ertel was jogging his horses again and despite the limp he walks with now, he managed to walk four kilometres at the event.

After Ertel, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic addressed the crowd.

“Terry Fox came through this community in my Grade 9 year,” said Vrbanovic. “We were talking about mythological heroes in English class at the time … and my hero project was actually about Terry Fox.”

After the speeches there was a group warm-up and the run began. Police officers helped the long procession of participants cross busy King Street, while Dave FM, which was on scene, fittingly played Run Terry Run by Ray Keating. Most events like this require paid duty officers, but because it was the 35th anniversary of the Canada-wide event, the police volunteered their time, so the money they would have been paid could go toward cancer research.

The route began at the corner of King Street and Pioneer Tower Road and continued down to the beginning of the Grand River Trail and back for a total of five kilometres. The make or break moment was at the steep hill beside the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower. It was at the 2.5-kilometre mark and though it was easy to run down, it was a trek to get back up. Bravery won through though, with even participants in wheelchairs braving the climb.

At the end of the run participants were met with cheers, congratulations, snacks and certificates showing they had completed the challenge. Many teams showed up, often wearing matching costumes. One was Team Run for Fun, which was aptly named, as Stephen McGibney, a member of the team, said, “because we ain’t professionals.”

Run for Fun consisted of seven members of the McGibney and Giangualano families, as well as Shandra Thompson. Each had felt the effects of cancer, either personally or through a family member. Their passion helped them to raise $800 for the cause. In total, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $700 million for cancer research in its 35 years.

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