Cancer Survivor (and Politician) completes 2016 Terry Fox Run in Thornhill

Alan Shefman, cancer survivor and councillor in the City of Vaughan, getting set to do the Terry Fox Run in Thornhill, Ont. (Zachary Bodenstein Photo)

by Zachary Bodenstein, Centennial Journalism

Beating cancer is not an easy thing, nor is being elected a city councilllor: Alan Shefman did both. Shefman ran in his 35th Terry Fox Run Sunday morning at Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill, where organizers said they hoped to raise $100,000 this year.

Shefman overcame lymphoma five years ago. He has been doing the Terry Fox Run for over 10 years. As a cancer survivor, Shefman participates without hesitation.

“I have had cancer and I have lost relatives and all sorts of family to cancer in the past,” Shefman said. “I think it’s very important that people do what they can to raise money to do research to find cures for cancer. This is a huge one to be involved with.”

This is the 36th consecutive year that the Terry Fox Run has been active in Canada. The run was inspired by Fox’s journey to run across Canada in 1980, despite having his leg amputated due to bone cancer. The premise of his run was to raise money and awareness for cancer research. He began on April 12,1980. It ended on September 1, 1981, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres, in Thunder Bay, Ont. when the cancer spread to his lungs.

The run has been a tradition in Thornhill for at least 10 years. Last year, the run attracted 750 runners. The organizer, Blaine Sikich, was pleased with this year’s turnout.

“Initial impressions are that it’s fantastic so far…our expectation was to have around 750 people here and I think we’re on track for that,” Sikich said.

As many people lined up at the starting point, none was more appreciated than Shefman, who showed up with Peter Kent, the Conservative MP for the Thornhill riding, who also ran.

“They’re men in positions of power but it doesn’t matter what position of power you’re in when you talk to the doctor and get that phone call and say, ‘You’ve got cancer,’” Sikich said. “I’m pleased to see them here.”

Shefman was overjoyed to see the atmosphere and the emotion on the faces of the other runners.

“It’s always a great event. It’s always full of enthusiasm and people who are excited about raising money for the Terry Fox Foundation…I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” he said, and encouraged all non-participants to come out next year.