Cue-ing for The Cure 

More than a run to Sunday’s Terry Fox fundraiser

The bottom line for organizers of Whistler’s Terry Fox Run this year is $30,000 — a goal about $8,000 higher than last year’s record, but Elena Beveridge wanted to set the bar high.

“We think the barbecue will help, and if not this year than it will help in the future by making the event more popular,” she said.

That’s because the real bottom line is a cure for cancer, which has been the goal since the first Terry Fox Run was held in 1981. To date the Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $400 million for cancer research, including some promising new treatments that are being employed today. The foundation is very efficient at spending the money it raises, with just three cents of each dollar going to administration and 10 cents to fundraising. The rest, 87 cents for every dollar, goes directly to research.

There are thousands of Terry Fox events across Canada each year, as well as hundreds of events in the U.S. and around the world. Four Seasons hotels, including the Four Seasons Whistler which has been sponsoring the Whistler run since it opened, has been a huge supporter since hotel founder Isadore Sharpe met with Terry Fox in 1980 and promised to keep Fox’s Marathon of Hope alive.

Whistler’s event, which takes place Sunday, Sept. 14,   follows the Valley Trail and offers 5 km and 10 km routes for runners, walkers, bicycles, dog walkers, stroller pushers, skateboarders, and every other kind of participant, starting and finishing at Meadow Park Sports Centre. Registration is by donation, and gets underway at 9 a.m. The event starts at 10 a.m. and there will be a water station at the halfway point of the 5 km run, and at the 2.5 km and 7.5 km point of the 10 km route.

Most people take part as individuals and families, but by tradition the Whistler firefighters will be on hand to run in their safety gear. As well, this is the second year for the corporate challenge, where the business that raises the most money and shows the most spirit can win a $5,000 party for 75 people at Buffalo Bill’s.

All participants will get breakfast as usual, but the event will keep going through the early afternoon with a new barbecue and more live entertainment from the Hairfarmers, Ali Milner, DJ Jenny, as well as facepainters, balloon artists, and a speech by Paralympic athlete and amputee Andrea Holmes. The barbecue is $10, and is open to everyone in the community. Splitz Grill, Subway and Whistler Cooks is hosting the event, which means all profits will go to the Terry Fox Foundation. There will also be a grass volleyball tournament at the site, organized by the Whistler Outdoor Volleyball Association. The cost is $20 per team.

The raffle is also returning this year, with tickets available for $2 each at the start or by visiting businesses participating in the Corporate Challenge. The prizes are once again unbelievable, with a grand prize of a four night stay at the Four Seasons Lanai in Hawaii, and a runner-up prize of a two-night stay at the Wickaninnish Inn at Tofino. Other prizes have been donated by local restaurants, tour operators, golf courses, and businesses.

“The goal of the barbecue is to bring in the whole community, get more people out and raise awareness,” said Beveridge. “Some people might not take part in the run, but still want to support the cause. Everybody knows someone who has had cancer, or is fighting cancer.”

Nobody fought cancer quite like Terry Fox. He was an athlete through high school, and was taking physical education at Simon Fraser University when he discovered he had a type of bone cancer in his right leg. Doctors had no choice but to amputate, but Fox worked hard to rehabilitate himself and reportedly was able to play a round of golf six weeks after the operation.

While he moved on in many ways, he never forgot his experience in the hospital and the time he spent among other cancer patients. Slowly the idea of the Marathon of Hope took place — he would run across Canada, from the east shore of Newfoundland to the west shore of Vancouver Island to raise money for cancer research, and increase awareness of the disease.

He roughly ran the equivalent of a marathon every single day for 143 days, covering 5,373 km. While there was little fanfare at the start, he quickly became a national hero for Canada, with over a million people lining his parth as he ran down Yonge Street in Toronto.

Near Thunder Bay he was forced to stop after chest pains and breathing problems surfaced. He vowed to fight it and return to the road, but doctors in B.C. confirmed that the cancer spread to his lungs. He died on June 28, 1981.

That year his friends and supporters held the first Terry Fox Run events across Canada, a tradition that continues 27 years later.

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