ESL Teacher Kathy Moustakis runs for Terry Fox on behalf of her students

Janet Ainslie speaking to Terry Fox Run participants at Cedar Brook Park in Scarborough on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (Photo/Daniel Samuel, Centennial Journalism)

by Daniel Samuel, Centennial Journalism

At the 36th annual Terry Fox Run at Cedar Brook Park in Scarborough on Sunday, ESL teacher Kathy Moustakis was looking forward to her second-ever run but felt it’s important to participate in the event annually.

“[Fox is] someone I’d admire as a Canadian and just having grown up and learned about his story really touched me and motivated me,” Moustakis said. “It’s a great way to raise funds for cancer research and to continue Terry’s legacy.”

kathy moustakis

ESL teacher Kathy Moustakis (Photo courtesy Toronto College of Technology)

Moustakis, 38, teaches English as a second language to students at Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services, the organization that sponsored her, and is located not far from Cedar Brook Park. Moustakis instructs her students about Fox—the man who has inspired so many—and cites him has a Canadian hero.

“I’ve been (teaching)… for four years now, so next year will be my fifth year,” Moustakis said.

Thirty-seven years have passed since Terry Fox began the Marathon of Hope. The 21-year-old cancer survivor decided to act upon an improbable idea and run across Canada to raise money in the search for a cure for the disease, that cost him most of his right leg and afflicted so many he had come to know. Fox died before he could achieve his ultimate goal. However, his impact lives on through the Terry Fox Foundation, which has raised over $750 million, and the participants who run in his honour each September.

Before the Run at Cedar Brook, participants and organizers alike reflected on the importance of the event as they attempted to emulate the strength and courage of Fox. Allison O’Neil is motivated to run by the memory of her late mother, who died from breast cancer in 2011.

“My mom’s birthday falls on September 18th, so the first year that I did it after she passed fell on her birthday, so I thought it was kind of meant to be and I’ve done it ever since,” said O’Neil, as a stream of tears rolled out from beneath her sunglasses.

The memory of close friend and Liberal MP Arnold Chan was fresh on the mind of run co-organizer, Toronto city councillor Paul Ainslie. Chan died last week after a three-year battle with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. A Scarborough native, Ainslie and his wife Janet took over the organizing duties for the event from Ken Pearson, in 2014. As an accountant the math comes easy for Janet.

“The goal is to raise $40,000 dollars for cancer research,” she said. While she stressed the importance of raising money—the run at Cedar Brook Park has raised nearly $650,000  since its inception in 1981—how she feels after the race is worth the countless hours she spends planning the event.

“There’s a huge sense of fulfillment in making a difference in the community,” Janet said. “[Terry Fox] ran a marathon every day with one leg, it’s just incredible to hear and understand his story.”

Audio interview with Kathy Moustakis

ESL teacher Kathy Moustakis was running on behalf of her students, in her second-ever Terry Fox Run at Cedar Brook Park in Scarborough. Her run was sponsored by Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services, a Toronto agency. As she tells Centennial Journalism’s Daniel Samuel, Moustakis feels it’s important to participate in the event every year to honour Fox’s legacy. Listen to the interview here.