Tara Swartz-O’Neill participates in the Terry Fox Run annually in memory of her late mother Fay Eriksen and also her late first husband Solomon Swartz.
Swartz-O’Neill’s fundraising effort for the Terry Fox Run began in 2015, when she started TeamSol to memorialize her late husband. After being diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2013, Solomon Swartz died after a 15-month battle with cancer, in 2014.
In her first year doing the run, his widow raised over $7,000 dollars, becoming one of the top fundraisers in Thornhill. Since then, she has continued to organize and has raised over $100,000 for life-saving cancer research.
Now, as the new organizer for Mississauga-Meadowvale, for Tara this year has been all about adaptability. This Sunday’s Terry Fox Run commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, despite the complications that have arisen due to COVID-19.
Swartz-O’Neill kept the community strongly engaged, through a virtual silent auction, virtual warm ups and a series of videos highlighting participants and their stories .
“Regardless of your age or physical fitness you would be surprised how easy it is to take part. You can choose your pace and how far you want to go,” Swartz-O’Neill said.
One of the other teams participating in the Mississauga-Meadowvale Run was Aashna’s Angels. In 2007, Jatin Dhingra’s younger sister Aashna was diagnosed with the same osteosarcoma cancer that Terry Fox had. Aashna died at the age of seven, in 2009.
Dhingra and his family have participated actively as a team since 2011 .
“Aashna was wise beyond her years and the warmth of her smile touched everyone around her,” Dhingra said. “We have been in the top ten for fundraising at our site and hope to contribute each year.”
Jatin, an aspiring CPA candidate and Ryerson University student, has been a speaker at the run in previous events. He shares the same message that is on his running shirt – the memory of his sister “Aashna lives Forever in his heart”.
Terry Fox started the Marathon of Hope with a goal of raising money and awareness for cancer research. To date Terry Fox Runs globally have raised over $800 million dollars.
Fred Fox, the elder brother of Terry Fox, has been a part of the Fox Foundation for many years.
“We never thought the run would become as big as it has,” Fox said Wednesday in an interview with the Toronto Observer.