Emma Koster credited her family with pushing her into the Terry Fox Run, but when she reached adulthood Koster took inspiration from Terry Fox on her own terms.
The Terry Fox Run is a family tradition for Koster, in part because her grandmother, mother and aunt have worked at the Terry Fox Foundation. The family has made the Terry Fox Run into a ritual, where everyone “has different teams they’re participating on, so we’re all competing to raise funds,” she said.
“I always think of Terry Fox whenever I’m facing something in my life,” said Koster, 20, as she and her family completed Sunday’s run at Toronto’s Leslie Street Spit. “Especially now that I’m getting to be almost his age when he started the run.”
The 2020 Terry Fox Run went virtual to accommodate for the COVID-19 pandemic, with no public gatherings, and runners encouraged to organize their own activities.
Fox was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right leg at the age of 18. While recovering from his amputation at the knee and chemotherapy, Fox dedicated himself to cancer research. He began running the Marathon of Hope across Canada in 1980 to raise a dollar for every Canadian. His journey captured the nation’s attention.
Fox stopped the marathon in Thunder Bay, Ontario when his cancer returned on September 1, 1980. He died the next year at 22.
“I think realizing how young he was really inspires me and to see what he did for cancer research at his age,” added Koster, a student in her third year at McMaster University.
While Toronto-based fitness instructor Karina Milech did her annual run around Upper Canada College Sunday, she also inspired her family to fundraise. They completed a 10 km run in Montreal two days earlier.
Milech takes inspiration from Fox’s selfless perseverance.
“Anytime I say I can’t do something, I look at this guy, who really shouldn’t have been able to do something and did it anyways,”Milech said. “I think that’s amazing.”
Milech got into the Terry Fox Run after a friend, Jacqui Gold, died of cancer at 30 years old.
“I wanted to do something for Jacqui,” she said. “Something that could be giving back.”
Listen to Milech’s advice for anyone thinking of doing the Terry Fox Run
Milech and her friends started a fundraising team in 2015 and raised $724 their first year. Five years later they’ve raised over $10,000, including $3,629 in 2020. When discussing what led to her team’s success, Milech noted they started small but persisted.
“Consistency is key,” Milech said. “Now we have our regular donors, and we’re just going up, and next year I’m thinking of how we can get bigger.”
Milech also thanked the Terry Fox Foundation, who “treat every team like they’re the only team.”
To date, over $800 million has been raised for cancer research in Terry Fox’s name.