By Darren Lum
Published Sept. 15 2016
As far as Canadian heroes they don’t get much better than Terry Fox.
The night before he had his right leg amputated because of a malignant tumour he became inspired by a story he read about an amputee runner. It led him to embark on run across Canada to raise a $1 for every person in the country with his Marathon of Hope in 1980 at the age of 21. His fundraising run started in Newfoundland with the gesture of dipping his prosthetic leg into the Atlantic Ocean. The distance he travelled is legendary. Fox ran through six provinces covering 5373 kilometres in 143 days. It was the average of a marathon a day. He was forced to stop outside Thunder Bay because his cancer had spread to his lungs. He eventually died from the complications but his efforts and advocacy have not been forgotten.
Thirty-six years have passed and people continue to run in his name and to fundraise for cancer research. There are thousands of runs held across the country and around the world because of volunteers. The new heroes organize not just to honour his legacy but to honour everyone touched by cancer.
Minden’s run co-ordinator Diane Peacock is one of those heroes. She has volunteered for 17 years with the Terry Fox Foundation and helped to co-ordinate the event for the past 10 years done over 10 months.
Peacock’s great niece Victoria Peacock of Ennismore continues to drive her like she did when she started.
It’s been seven years of remission for 12-year-old Victoria who was diagnosed with kidney cancer at nine months. This coming weekend she will be with her Girl Guides troop camping living life like any young girl Peacock said smiling with bright eyes.
This past Monday she was near to tears knowing the flag with the words Terry Lives Here was high up on the flagpole at Minden’s township office as it was last year. She said it announces to everyone in Minden what their support has meant to the success of the run.
“This is the way that we can show a thank you to the town” she said.
There has been $250000 raised in the 23 years of the run owed to participant community and business support. This year there have already been 35 items donated for the silent auction which is open to participants and spectators.
Every May Peacock and other run co-ordinators are invited to a workshop in Toronto to meet with cancer researchers who talk about how the money helps them work towards a cure.
“We see where the money is going. We see what is happening. There is big things going on. Clinical trials in Ottawa right now with Dr. John Bell using viruses to kill the tumour. There is no chemo involved” she said.
She also learned of Dr. David Malkin who is a senior scientist and oncologist at The Hospital for Sick Kids. His cure rate for childhood leukemia is 90 per cent.
Just before the Fox flag was raised a ceremonial photo was taken with Terry Fox Run for Minden committee members and volunteers and the municipal politicians including Reeve Brent Devolin and Nancy Lowes a volunteer for 15 years.
Although she started to assist her daughter (and then her son) in high school to get community hours for graduation she continued to run the feed station with students at the turn around point of the route for the family connection to cancer. Lowes’s uncle Elmer Russell died from lung cancer in 1979 while her mother Dolores MacGregor is a survivor.
“I do it for them” she said.
She adds the progress of the cancer research definitely factored in her mother receiving successful treatment for cervical cancer when she diagnosed close to 18 years ago.
Peacock said this year’s 10 kilometre route is the same as last year.
It starts at 9:30 a.m. this Sunday and begins from the upper parking lot of the Minden Hills Community Centre then Prentice Street left onto Bobcaygeon Road right on Deep Bay Road to Mistivale Trail and return to the start. Registration is at 9 a.m.
However any distance or donation is welcome. Walk run blade or bicycle what you can and give what you can. She points to the back of her Terry Fox T-shirt featuring Fox’s words: The answer is to try and help others.
Peacock who pointed out there is a lot of work behind the scenes said without businesses organizations and people like Lowes the event wouldn’t happen.
“We could not do this run without the volunteers the businesses that donate. I don’t have a budget like some of the other runs. They have budgets for advertising. They have budgets for buying stuff. I have zero budget” she said. “I rely on the donations from the businesses for our silent auction and for our food table our water table and everything.”
DARREN LUM Staff