Participants Filled with Hope and Determination at Woodbridge Terry Fox Run

Terry Fox runners

Over 300 people participated in the Woodbridge Terry Fox run in Boyd Park on Sept 17, 2017. (Sergio Arangio, Centennial Journalism)

Sergio Arangio, Centennial Journalism

Sombreness was overcome by hope and determination at the Woodbridge Terry Fox Run on Sunday. The day began with nearly 350 runners and volunteers gathered around the run’s registration area at Boyd Park, eager to do their part in finding a cure for cancer.

Organizer John Gatti has been involved with the Woodbridge run for 27 years. Over time, and with more family and friends being diagnosed with cancer, he has become even more determined to find a cure.

“For me, it’s all about hope. I hope and I believe we’re gonna get to [a cure],” he said.

In total, the Woodbridge run has raised over $467,000 since its inception in 1981, including $18,000 in preliminary donations for the day’s event. Gatti is hoping to hit the $500,000 mark by next year.

Gatti’s main goal is to give science the resources it needs to finally put a stop to cancer.

“I’m still here because I’ll never find a cure, I’m not a scientist – but I’m gonna give the scientists the opportunity to do it.”

Paulette Romhanyi, a personal trainer, was feeling very energetic and confident that the disease can be beaten, with enough help.

“It’s a really great cause and cancer doesn’t seem to want to go away, so the more money we can make to eradicate it, the better,” she said.

Romhanyi lost her father to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in 1987. He was 52.

Romhanyi began participating in the Terry Fox Run three years ago. Being around like-minded people keeps her motivated to contribute every year.

“Seeing all of our family, community out here…I think that comradery really spurs you on…and it brings it to a personal level as well,” she said.

Ray D’Avolio, 54, and his mother Louisa D’Avolio, 76, were running for his late father and niece. They are two of the many family members the D’Avolios have lost to cancer.

Ray used to work as a building services supervisor at Mount Sinai Hospital. He is currently on disability leave after a car accident left him unable to work.

The D’Avolios are particularly grateful to Terry Fox for having inspired his self-named charitable foundation with his famous Marathon of Hope in April 1980.

“He kept things simple with a dollar of donation for each Canadian. He didn’t expect a fortune,” Ray said. “It was just a simple thing that he started that was like, you know, it’s still meaningful to this day – to me anyways, to us.”

Terry Fox was an athlete and strong advocate for cancer research. He was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, bone cancer, at the age of 18. It forced him to amputate his leg above his knee and later drove him to raise awareness for the disease.

Fox died in June 1981 in New Westminster, B.C., leaving behind him a legacy that the world would use as inspiration to contribute to the search for a cure.

While it is a somber time for many families, those like the Glanvilles, who have come out to contribute for over 20 years, take solace in their contributions serving a greater purpose.

Lyn Glanville, 46, said she feels the “fulfillment of knowing that it’s a good cause, and hopefully, within our lifetime, they’ll find a cure.”