The spirit of Terry Fox lives on

terry fox family
Survivor Erika Emerson-Wylie with husband, David Wylie and daughter, Evelyn at the start/finish line of the High Park Terry Fox Run. 09/15/2019 Meredith Omstead/Toronto Obserber

Erika Emerson-Wiley has been participating in the Terry Fox Run ever since she can remember. However, for the last 13 years, she has joined as a survivor.

Emerson-Wiley, 34, was diagnosed with a tumour at the bottom of her brain when she was 20.

“When I was 21 years old, I rang the bell at Princess Margaret Hospital because I finished all my cancer treatment on April 12,” she said, referring to that important calendar date.

A few decades earlier, on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox, then also aged 21, began his Marathon of Hope. Fox’s determination has continued to inspire Emerson-Wiley, and her team has raised over $30,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation (TFF) since she finished her treatment in 2006.

On Sunday, Emerson-Wiley was joined by her husband, David Wylie, one-year-old daughter Evelyn, as well as 26 other family members and friends at the High Park Terry Fox Run in Toronto. Their team’s name was “One Step at a Time”, a motto that Emerson-Wiley adopted when she was re-learning to walk after surgery.

Despite everything she went through when she was sick, Emerson-Wiley admits the biggest challenge was being told she wouldn’t be able to have children.

“I had a baby a year ago, and she’s a miracle,” she said.

David Smyth, the organizer of the High Park site, expected to have 700 people run, walk or bike to raise money for TFF. The location is the fourth largest in Ontario and has raised over $2 million since it began hosting the annual event in 1985. Sunday’s run raised $155,000, a new record for the books.

“It’s not like one generation only knew [Terry Fox]; all generations know him,” Smyth said.

The High Park Terry Fox Run is just one of over 9,000 volunteer-led events put on each year in over 25 countries to raise money for the TFF. This global participation has allowed the foundation to fund 1,314 cancer research projects in Canada.

“[Terry Fox] is truly a global icon for Canada,” said Smyth.

Even though Fox’s story has spread around the world, it hasn’t lost the community feel.

“You know, I really think Terry’s spirit is alive and well here and I think how that comes through in each and every year,” said Bill McGuire, 70, a Chondrosarcoma survivor. Chondrosarcoma is a bone cancer similar to the one Terry Fox had. McGuire has participated in the run for over thirty years, inlcuding as an amputee himself for fourteen.

Emerson-Wiley and McGuire were diagnosed with cancer many years after they started supporting the Terry Fox Run. They gave to the community and the cause that ultimately gave back to them. 

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Posted: Sep 15 2019 1:23 pm
Filed under: News