Keeping Terry’s Legacy Alive in Durham

women hiking in pickering
Caroline Honsberger, Middle: Rosi Vanderheijden, Right: Gwen Noble during the virtual Terry Fox run Sunday Sept. 20, 2020.  Manal Amir/Toronto Observer.

The cars arrived on Sunday, around 9 a.m. at Pickering’s Grand Valley Park. The weather was pleasant, and you could hear the excitement of the people gathered there. Everyone was getting ready to hike: some were learning how to use hiking poles for the first time, while others were prepping their bags and getting their pets ready to hike for Terry Fox Day.  

The 40th annual Terry Fox Run this year was significantly different, due to COVID-19 and new provincial policies set for social distancing. Fox ran through the City of Pickering and also Oshawa in 1980, and each year his spirit is remembered.

A small, organized group of five women hiked along Seaton Hiking Trail- Grand Valley Park in Pickering. Their fundraising goal was $400. 

Caroline Honsberger, a retired school teacher, has been hiking for the past 21 years in Pickering. Remembering Terry Fox during each hike is motivating for her because she is reminded of how one young person can make a remarkable difference. 

woman hiking
Caroline Honsberger at the Terry Fox Run Sunday Sept. 20, 2020. Manal Amir/Toronto Observer

“Terry Fox has always been a guiding force and he really has been a significant part of my personal life choice,” Honsberger said.

Fox started a campaign called the Marathon of Hope in 1980, after he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer). Fox ran on a prosthetic leg and was determined to raise awareness for finding treatment and money for cancer research in Canada. The inspiration is noticed worldwide. To date, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised $800 million.

During her career of teaching, Honsberger said she tried to inspire the kids, parents, families, and staff members. At her school, they would host mini-competitions for Terry Fox Day to encourage kids.

“So, a big one that we had in class is everybody would estimate how many laps they would run. Then we need to add those up,” Honsberger said.

“I gave them a party and anybody who beat how many laps I ran, they got a prize. They were very motivated to run.”

She remembered about how her “school picked one student who was most like Terry Fox to hold the flag and they would start the run on their own and have the whole school follow behind… very symbolic of Terry, ” she said.

Honsberger ‘s own children participated, too.

Her son ran so fast and hard for Terry Fox Day when he was in Grade 1, that he shredded the back of his heels. Her daughter, who is also a teacher, taught about Terry Fox at her school in Hong Kong. 

At first, they did not know who Terry Fox was and they thought “anybody with big curly hair, they nicknamed them ‘Terry’… because they look like Terry.”

The Terry Fox Foundation is important to Honsberger because the research has made an impactful difference in many people’s lives. Each year the Fox Foundation sends speakers to schools.

“I feel like in a time where we have heroes like Kardashians, it’s good to have a Terry, and his mum [was] really inspirational and his brother, his family is inspiring,” she said. “For kids to see a family, to see someone who is not self-centred, that is important, kids don’t see that often.”

Skin cancer runs in the Honsberger family, although thanks to research, the diagnosis is not always fatal.

“It makes it easy to live with my type of cancer… because there is now treatment early on.”

In Honsberger’s home, she keeps a collection of many books written about Terry Fox and is excited about the upcoming book Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters. 

It was an encouraging email from Honsberger that made Gwen Noble join the hike this year. Noble now plans on participating every year.

woman hiking
Gwen Noble at Seaton Trail on Sept. 20, 2020. (Manal Amir/Toronto Observer)

“There are many small Terry Fox hikes happening, people are doing it on their own but usually at Ajax Waterfront, there would be thousands of people participating,” Noble said. 

Noble has been active since the age of twelve helping with charities and she continues to support and sponsor various causes every year, such as Terry Fox Run.

Her sister is a huge supporter, and this foundation became personal when her husband was diagnosed.

Rosi Vanderheijden

Rosi Vanderheijden has been involved in fitness since 2002, and is a co-owner of Go Figure women’s health club in Ajax, as well as the Nordic Walking and Outdoor Bootcamp. 

Vanderheijon completed one marathon fourteen years ago around the age of 50. 

“It was one of the hardest physical things I’ve ever done, I couldn’t even fathom doing it the next day and the next day with cancer and one leg,” said Vanderheijon, with a smile.  “After my one marathon, I needed a week to recover. ”

On her hike Sunday, she remembered close family members who have cancer and prayed for a “good long quality of life,” for them. 

In Oshawa, Marj Burnett has been the organizer for the past 20 years. Her fundraising goal for this year was $1,090.

“My friend and I decided to take the plunge in 2001 to do the run and I was hooked. I have done the run every year since, with injuries and without,” Burnett said.

Over the past 20 years, she had the pleasure of meeting Terry Fox’s brother Fred Fox, his best friend Doug Alward, and many close to Terry. 

“On the run day, my thoughts are with Terry and how he connected our country. His courage to do a marathon a day, his legacy to keep this going,” Burnett said.

Recently, she bought the Terry Fox anniversary collection at Adidas Canada. The company came out with shoes and a shirt/hoodie for the special 40th annual run.

(Photo Courtesy: Marj Burnett @marjiestitcher)
Terry Fox Adidas shoes
Terry Fox 40th anniversary Adidas shoes.
Terry Fox 40th anniversary hoodie
Terry Fox 40th anniversary hoodie

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Posted: Sep 21 2020 5:35 pm
Filed under: News