30 years later, Terry Fox’s dream lives on

“One guy had the idea to do something so inspirational that it really stirred up the whole country,” Martin LeMoine says.

LeMoine has been inspired by Terry Fox since he began running his Marathon of Hope 30 years ago. His father, Joe LeMoine, has been hosting one of Scarborough’s annual Terry Fox runs for 27 years in West Hill.

On Sept. 19, a morning full of sunshine, the annual Terry Fox Run took place all over Canada. Scarborough residents came out to Cedarbrook Park on Markham Road and Old Kingston Road in West Hill to continue Terry’s run to raise awareness for cancer research.

At the West Hill route, Joe LeMoine continues to see dedicated runners year after year, 20 of whom he honoured with 30-year participation plaques.

“When we first began, on that first morning, a group of mostly runners in those days climbed the hill in front of 104 Ridgewood Rd. and began the first run through the neighborhood of West Rouge,” he said. “Thirty years later, many of those original runners are still coming out to … thank Terry for what he did and carry on his mission to conquer cancer in all its forms.”

Meanwhile at Cedarbrook Park, bikers, runners, walkers and even in-line skaters passed through a scenic wooded trail to support Terry’s dream.

Ken Pearson, who has organized the Cedarbrook Park run for the past 12 years, was motivated by something other than Terry’s vision.

“Well, I got lost on a course because it wasn’t marked properly, and I was so mad at the end of it that I said I could do a better job,” he said.

Pearson used to run it in West Hill, until he heard there were no volunteers to organize the then City of Scarborough’s annual Terry Fox Run. More than a decade later, Pearson continues his dedication to the cause, surrounded by his supportive family, friends and participants.

Beverley Stephenson, a longtime marathoner of the Cedarbrook Park run, is one of few people who holds a personal connection to the Terry Fox Run.

“I grew up in Scarborough and I remember being 20 when Terry came through,” said Stephenson. “Since then I’ve run a couple of marathons but I’ve had a week or so to recover. Everyday he got up and ran a marathon and ran a marathon, and once you’ve run one marathon in your life you realize how incredible it was what he did.”

Since Terry Fox started the Marathon of Hope in 1980 close to $500 million has been raised for research worldwide.

On Sept. 15, Statistics Canada reported that cancer survival rates since the 1990s are rising. Significantly, some cancers like liver cancer saw survival rates increase from nine per cent to 17 per cent.

The survival rate for Leukemia increased from 44 per cent to 54 per cent, while non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma went from 51 per cent to 63 per cent.

Some cancers like prostate, skin melanoma and breast cancer had high relative survival ratios: 96 per cent, 89 per cent and 88 per cent respectively. Yet pancreatic cancer rates remain low at six per cent.

The results were based on five-year survival ratio statistics gathered from 1992 to 1994 compared to rates from 2004 to 2006. The report compared survival rates of people with cancer five years after their diagnoses to people without cancer.

Terry Fox started the Marathon of Hope to help raise funds for cancer research, and to ultimately find a cure for cancer.

According to Pearson, Terry said in his famous speech in Scarborough, “I might not be able to finish this, but if I don’t someone else has to.”

“That’s what everyone else is doing — they’re continuing the run for Terry and in memory of him,” said Pearson.

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