Veteran Terry Fox volunteer inspires runners at Beaches

man with young boy
Jean Domagale, 79, with Ethan, 7, at the Woodbine Beach Terry Fox Run 2019 Akrit Michael/Toronto Observer
man with megaphone

“This one legged Canadian started a marathon which is now run by millions all over the world,” boomed the deep and captivating voice over the loudspeaker. The man holding the megaphone, Jean Domagale, 79, explained that the Beaches community has been involved with raising cancer awareness for more than 40 years, even before Terry Fox embarked on his Canada-wide Marathon of Hope in the summer of 1980.

Domagale was one of hundreds of people who came out for the Beaches event of the Terry Fox Run on Sunday. This year was the 38th annual run, the first being held on September 13, 1981. Domagale used to volunteer for the Beaches-Riverdale Canadian Cancer Society.

“Over time, I got involved with the Beaches chapter of the Terry Fox Foundation and have been coming here every year since,” he said.

Memorial Plaque for Gerry Kerr at the Woodbine Beach Terry Fox Run, Sept. 15, 2019.

Cancer has touched Domagale’s personal life in the past, as his wife was diagnosed with a form of abdominal cancer ten years ago. She fortunately beat it, but two of his comrades from the foundation, Pattie Foster and Gerry Kerr, lost their lives to the deadly disease.

“Pattie and I went to see the Terry Fox movie together, when it came out. Gerry never knew he had cancer. He came to know at a later stage, but still kept on giving his time towards the foundation and the annual run. Five years ago, he passed on,” Domagale said.

Listen to Jean Domagale’s speech to the crowd here.

Pamela Politano, has been the organizer of the Beaches event for four years.

“I’ve been participating in the run all my life, however its my fourth year organizing it. My dad was a part of the run team that ran with Terry here in Toronto,” she said, in an interview.

Politano said that preparations start in the summer, beginning in May. Participating families and friends come together and chip in to reach fundraising goals and proceeds are forwarded to the Terry Fox Foundation via the community’s local chapter.

“As of today we are on track to hit our goal of $100,000. Unlike other similar runs, most of the funds collected by the Terry Fox Foundation go straight to research,” she said.

As Domagale stood with his hands on the shoulders of an eager young elementary school runner, seven-year-old Ethan, he was encouraged to see so many other youngsters in this year’s race.

“The young generation is going to be the spokespeople of tomorrow,” Domagale said. “Seeing them come out with their parents, it embodies the spirit of Terry’s resolve of helping those who would be affected by cancer long after he would be gone.”

About this article

Posted: Sep 15 2019 11:02 am
Filed under: News