Cindy McNeil has been running the Stouffville Terry Fox Run since 1985, mostly on her own. In 2009, her father started participating with her, after he was diagnosed with cancer only a few weeks before that year’s run.
With his death in 2013, this is the seventh year in a row that McNeil will be running for “Bob’s Team”, created in his memory.
The Terry Fox Run has been held annually for 38 years in the memory of Terry Fox, who ran the Marathon of Hope across Canada in 1980, aiming to raise awareness and money for cancer research. Fox was diagnosed with the disease three years earlier. Today marks the 37th annual Terry Fox Run in Stouffville, held every year in the town since 1982.
McNeil has become especially amazed over the years about how much today’s youth look up to Fox as a role model and hero.
She recalls seeing a young girl walked in to a fundraiser a few days before Sunday’s event and immediately pointed out a cardboard cutout of Fox, exclaiming how much she loved him.
“It melted my heart because that’s the impact that he has on our country, and on kids that are six years old. They get it, they know it and I think that’s so important,” McNeil said. “There’s such an integrity to the organization and the foundation that it’s just an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Keith Acton, a cancer survivor, former assistant coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Stouffville resident, has always been inspired by Fox’s courage as a young adult to make the sacrifices that he did to run a cross country marathon on one leg.
“He’s left his mark, and so many of us are cancer survivors because of his courage and sacrifice,” Acton said.
Even though this year’s run was hit with rain, no one’s mood was dampened because the event was a milestone one for Stouffville. The town has officially raised $2 million in 37 runs.
Run co-ordinator Stacey Fitzpatrick felt the rain shouldn’t keep anyone away from running.
“Rain, shine, doesn’t matter. Terry ran through all of it on one leg so I can do it on two,” Fitzpatrick said. When asked about the fundraising goal for this year’s run, Fitzpatrick said they needed only $50 thousand to hit the $2 million total goal.
“We’re hoping maybe in the 60-70 realm, that’s kind of where we’ve been the last few years, and considering the weather it would be pretty cool to hit it again.”