‘Are you Terry Fox’s brother?”: Irish-born amputee runner hears that question often in Toronto

Patrick Doyle poses for a photo after completing the Terry Fox Run in Toronto, 2016. (Michael Linnenen photo)

by Michael Linennen, Centennial Journalism

Patrick Doyle has the same disability as Terry Fox, except his right leg was amputated due to a workplace accident in 2013, after heavy machinery fell on him and left him in coma. Doyle has slowly recovered, and now his goal is to get back into running, as he was an athlete before the accident. During Sunday’s Terry Fox Run on September 18, 2016, Doyle ran 10 kilometres at Woodbine Beach using his own prosthetic leg. Despite his disability, Doyle’s ultimate goal is to finish the New York Marathon in November.

“To be able to participate in something like this, there are so many people out today, it’s an amazing thing to be part of,” he said. “I join it because one, for me to try to get back on track, two for the cause. It’s a great cause, Terry Fox is an amazing guy anyway.”

Doyle’s own father died of cancer a decade ago.

“Unfortunately there was nothing they can do, so this [Run} is all for cancer,” he said. “The fact he [Terry Fox] was out there doing the run on behalf of everybody, that to me is a big thing.”

Fox decided to run across Canada in 1980 to raise money and awareness for cancer research despite his own battle with cancer. Although he did not complete the Marathon of Hope, his dedication touched the hearts of many Canadians. Bill Sevigny saw Fox when the one-legged runner ran down Toronto’s Parliament Street back in 1980.

“It was emotional, to see the pain on his face and what he was doing for cancer people, it was absolutely amazing,” Sevigny said.

This was the 36th annual Terry Fox Run. There are over 9,000 run sites across Canada. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $650 million since 1981. For the Woodbine Beach location, it was their 35th year staging the Terry Fox Run. Hundreds of runners on the beach wore a Terry Fox T-shirt. Some of them designed their own T-shirts to show their support for friends that are currently battling cancer. An estimated 500 people participated the event. Organizers said they hope to raise at least $100,000 this year.

“I think this is one of the best turnouts, the weather really helped; we were scared of the rain last night,” said Ahmed Aman, one of the organizers. He is also a cancer researcher, developing new drugs for cancer. “The money we raised for cancer research do help patients at the end of the day.”

Nicole Barry has been volunteering at the Terry Fox Run since 1981. This is the first year she also completed the 10-kilometre course. She describes the experience as “exhilarating”.

“Just as Terry he used to say, “It cannot end with him’, everybody needs to continue and help out and do their part,” Barry said.