Wilket Creek runners faithful to memory of Terry Fox

Papito Wilson’s routine was altered in 1995. He lost his leg in an accident.

“It changed my life,” he said.

But it didn’t slow him down. Now 51, Wilson has learned to play wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, para-rowing and wheelchair tennis.

On Sunday, for the first time, Wilson participated in the 36th annual Terry Fox Run at Wilket Creek Park in east Toronto.

“It’s a great experience to do something to support others,” he said.

The Wilket Creek Terry Fox run is among the largest in the country. Since it began in 1980, it’s raised $10 million. One of the event organizers, Jonathan Selmen said last year the run raised over $400,000. Selmen has worked as a Terry Fox volunteer for 18 years

“I think the memory is Terry Fox … and the Canadian public continues to support (this) Canadian icon,” Selmen said.

Kinna Lin, 78, is a breast cancer survivor. She participated in the Fox event as part of team, the North America Taiwanese Women Association. Some members of the team are in their 70s and 80s and have taken part in the run for 12 years.

“We feel it’s very meaningful to show our support,” Lin said. “That’s why we come (here) every year.”

Lin immigrated to Canada in 1966, and she believes the Terry Fox Run is also a good way to narrow cultural differences and “merge into the Canadian society.”

The Wilket Creek Park run organizers invited some inspiring guest speakers to share their stories about Terry Fox and cancer.

Justin Lewis, a survivor of colon cancer, spoke about the importance of cancer research and fundraising.

“You can help someone else by what you went through,” he said. He thinks it’s a way to give back what he has received when he diagnosed cancer four years ago.

Lewis brought his mother, his wife and his two children to the event. He pointed out that family gave him a great deal of support during his treatment.

“My parent made it to all my chemo sessions, except for one, which I tease them about,” Lewis said.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who represents the Don Valley Parkway riding, also participated in the Wilket Creek run.

“It’s a great community event,” the premier said before the run starts, “so have a wonderful walk, run, whatever it is you do. Enjoy yourself and again, thank you for being here!”