by Rhianne Campbell, Centennial Journalism
Doris Spencer’s first Terry Fox Run was in 1987. At the time, Spencer, now 92, was running for her eldest daughter who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nearly three decades later, Spencer is still doing the Terry Fox Run in Scarborough’s Cedar Brook Park. Three of her children died of cancer.
“My goal was to raise as much money as I could and I’m very happy that I was able to raise $400. But it’s due to the generosity of people who recognize the cause and the need for financial support,” Spencer said Sunday, at the 36th annual event.
Terry Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer when he was 18 years old. His right leg was amputated causing him to wear a prosthesis. Fox was inspired to raise money and awareness for cancer research, which in turn, fuelled his passion and goal to run across Canada. He’d hoped to raise $1 from every Canadian.
His journey began in St. John’s, Newfoundland on, April 12, 1980 and it abruptly ended just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Fox’s courage and hope caught many people’s attention; to date approximately $700 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research. The run is held in over 9,000 communities across Canada.
Paul Ainslie is a Toronto city councillor representing Scarborough. He worked very closely alongside Ken Pearson, the previous organizer of the Scarborough Terry Fox Run. They believe it’s an important opportunity for people to come out and support cancer research.
“Why Scarborough? Because that’s our community and we were already very invested and really valued the Terry Fox Run,” said Janet Ainslie, Paul’s wife, and co-organizer.
The Cedar Brook Park site hosts 25-50 volunteers and about 300 participants yearly. This site alone has raised $640,000 over the previous years, generally $30-40,000 dollars per year, Janet said.
“I think it’s a message of hope, that’s what Terry taught us, and courage. Terry is an iconic Canadian, he inspired; it showed us that so much is possible, it gave us bigger dreams, he talked about the possibilities, (he) inspired our whole generation,” Janet said.
The Terry Fox Run is an event that Spencer holds close to her heart. Spencer idolizes Fox as a true Canadian hero. For her, the event is a means of commemoration for her children and many others around the world living with cancer. She has a message for those with a loved one battling cancer.
“Be supportive, love them and try to help them as much as you can.”
Sutha Shanmugarajah is one of many active participants at Scarborough’s Cedarbrook Park. She weighs in on her experiences working at the Toronto Western Hospital and gives insight into what she has learned and why she is here today. She tells Centennial Journalism’s Rhianne Campbell why Terry Fox is an inspiration.