Canadian hero Terry Fox was quoted as saying,“I want to set an example that will never be forgotten.”
Forty years after the annual Terry Fox Run fundraiser for cancer research first began the young man’s example continues to have a positive effect.
Jonah Manning is currently preparing for his annual 10K run in the Elmira leg of the event.
The 14-year old was first inspired by Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope.
Jonah participated in the event and up to age nine he usually biked with friends and family. But 2014 brought with it some sad news.
When Jonah learned his grandmother, Norma MacDonald, was diagnosed with cancer he was moved even more so to take up Terry’s torch.
Jonah’s mom, Shelly, recalls her son’s determination.
“If Terry can do it, I can do it."
“I want to do it for Nana,” she remembers Jonah saying.
That year Jonah trained throughout the summer and when September 20 rolled around he completed the 10K run and Team Jonah raised $5,400 in donations for the Terry Fox Foundation.
On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox dipped his prosthetic leg in the waters of St John’s harbour thus beginning his quest to run across Canada and raise $1 million for cancer research.
Terry had lost his leg to cancer and was determined to do what he could to help cancer patients become survivors.
The young man never finished his tour, which came to be known as the Marathon of Hope. His cancer came back and he died in June 1981.
But the momentum he set in motion prompted the first Terry Fox Run that year with more than 300,000 people participating to raise $3.5 million.
Fast forward to May 2020 and Jonah’s family was hit again with hard news.
Jonah’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Jonah is determined once again to put cancer research in the spotlight. He hopes others will join in sponsoring or forming a team of their own.
Shelly, who is also this year’s coordinator for the Elmira event, said 79 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to research.
“The research makes such a difference,”she said.
Things will look a little different this year with the Terry Fox Run going virtual.
There will be no large groups of runners, but Gwen Smith- Walsh,Provincial Director for the Terry Fox Foundation NB/PE said with the motto ‘One Day Your Way’ she looks forward to participants making their own celebrations.
“We are fortunate with the amount of funds raised from events throughout PEI,” Ms Smith- Walsh said.
Many of the top fundraisers come from the Atlantic region and 98 per cent of schools in PEI hold the event annually.
As Jonah looks at the t-shirts celebrating the 40th anniversary of the run he reflects on the story of Terry’s journey.
It is a story he knows well.
He talks about how grueling it must have been to set out every day and run 40 plus kilometres.
“I think it is pretty amazing he could do that every day,” Jonah said.
Jonah said he is also very inspired by Terry’s attitude of pushing forward to reach his goal.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Team Jonah this year or starting a team of their own can find information at www.terryfox.org