Glemena Bettencourt, the organizer of the annual Oak Ridges Terry Fox Run, ran with Fox forty years ago. Since then, the fundraiser has become her life’s purpose.
“Me helping Terry changed my life, I believe he saved my life,” Bettencourt said. “For me, meeting him and knowing him, gave me hope.”
Fox started his marathon in 1980, committing to run across the country to raise money for cancer research. The marathon ended on September 1, 1980, when the primary cancer spread to his lungs.
Bettencourt actually drove to Thunder Bay in early September to commemorate her hero’s run and to stand at the exact spot where he stopped forty years ago.
“Our slogan this year is ‘Try like Terry’ and Terry never gave up,” said Bettencourt. “The determination is something that wore off on me and millions of people, I’m sure.”
One of those people is Layla Keyes-Renaud, who was diagnosed with Anaplastic Astrocytoma, or Stage 3 brain cancer, in 2019. She participated in the Oak Ridges virtual run with her family on Saturday.
Keyes-Renaud went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation and also brain surgery. Despite her own battle with cancer, she participates in the run every year in hopes to de-stigmatize cancer.
“We’re all struggling with an internal battle that no one else is going to see, so give each other breathing room and support people,” Keyes-Renaud said
In August, she started a hand-crafted jewelry line on Instagram, under the brand @ancestral.artistry. Keyes-Reynaud is donating 20 per cent of all proceeds to the Terry Fox Foundation. In just a month, the business has raised $400 for cancer research.
“This is not something that you do without fear, but you do it anyways. You have to find the courage to do it,” Keyes-Renaud said.
Organizers say Terry Fox continues to inspire generations of people to fight for a cause bigger than themselves, despite their own battles. Bettencourt hopes that the younger generation starts to see Terry the way she does, as the superhero he is. She continues to speak at school assemblies to keep his memory alive.
As for Bettencourt’s own plans for Sunday’s “One Day. Your Way” virtual event, due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place this year, the Oak Ridges woman will be out there herself.
“I’ve had a knee replacement and probably 18 surgeries on my knees, so my running days apparently ended two years ago when I had my right knee replaced. So, I’m gonna go out there and walk, do my part. That’s all I can do now,” she said.