Shayelle Smith, Centennial Journalism
Pickering retiree Rosalind Kentish put on her sneakers Sunday outside of the Pickering Recreation Complex in preparation for her return to the Terry Fox Run. At 70-years-old, Kentish runs in support of her parents, both victims of skin cancer. Kentish and her family participated in the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Terry’s CAUSE On Campus, until she suffered a broken ankle during a Caribbean vacation. Now, for the first time since recovering from her injury, Kentish returns to the cause which holds a sentimental place in her heart.
“My youngest son was born in 1981, the year that Terry died so I feel very close to being able to run for him,” she explained.
The Terry Fox Foundation has raised $750 million for cancer research through the annual Terry Fox Run, since its start in September 1981. Beginning three months after Fox’s death, the run aims to honour the legacy of Fox’s Marathon of Hope. Pickering’s Terry Fox Run has contributed about $868, 075 over the last 31 years.
“I could only imagine how Terry would marvel at this incredible fundraising effort over the years,” Kevin Cahill, the organizer, told an excited crowd during Sunday’s opening ceremony. “We know how proud he would have been.”
Cahill has been involved with the run since its 1986 inception in Pickering. In his youth he volunteered, with smaller responsibilities such as handing out water to participants along their course. As of 2013, he has been the main organizer of the event.
“You do it not for accolade, don’t do it for any glory, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Cahill said.
His mother, a former key volunteer for the event, died of a difficult to treat lung cancer in 2012, but Cahill remains optimistic about the progress of cancer research.
“We’re slowly winning, there are quite a few childhood cancers that we’re well on. In fact, Terry Fox’s cancer, osteosarcoma, if he were alive today, he would have an 85 percent chance of survival,” Cahill said.
Despite Pickering’s slight drop in participant turnout over the last decade, which the organizer attributes to the growing number of marathons supporting cancer research, the town’s Mayor Dave Ryan, has not missed one.
“I’ve lost family members to cancer,” Ryan said. “I’m sure if I asked you, you’d have a relative, a friend or a colleague affected in some way by the disease. That, in that way, unfortunately unites us.”
Kentish’s message to those considering participating in the Terry Fox Run?
“It’s so important to keep cancer research going,” she said. “Several of my friends and family friends have had very bad cancers and lost loved ones.”