Mike Hurley participated in his first Terry Fox run 33 years ago. It was also Nelson’s first event and today, the Marathon of Hope still inspires people to make their own run for cancer.
“I think the biggest part is Terry’s connection to Canadians,” said Hurley when asked what continually draws people to the run. “While he did have a spark to him, he also had a real sense of humanity.”
While Fox became famous for his inspirational run, he never intended to be a star. He wanted his cross Canada run to bring attention to others suffering with cancer.
Hurley remembers being affected by Fox’s story that drew him into the first event held in Nelson. There were nearly 1,000 people who made that run from Lakeside Park to the Taghum Bridge.
“I clearly remember that day,” said the man who now helps organize the annual run.
Students followed Fox’s run that started in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980 with little attention. As he crossed the country enthusiasm grew and grew. When he cut his cross-country run short near Thunder Bay, the entire nation was shocked and saddened.
“I was in Grade 11 when Terry passed away and I can remember when my teacher came in to announce he’d passed away… It was shocking to me, and to all of us,” said Hurley. “Our whole class and probably most of L.V. Rogers was involved in that first run.”
As other worthy events came along over the years, participation dwindled somewhat and Hurley became concerned that the Terry Fox Run had run its course. Then last year, over 200 people participated with the Kootenay Rhythm Dragon boat team helping organize and Kristi Crowe promoting on social media helping to draw a crowd.
“I think there’s also a younger group of families that are starting to connect and understand about Terry,” said Hurley.
This year’s Terry Fox run is being held this Sunday starting at Lakeside Park’s flagpole. There is no entry fee and no minimum required donation. Participants can turn around at any point along the run and participate on foot, by wheelchair or on bikes.
“It’s a non-competitive event,” said Hurley. “Terry’s message always was, ‘you just give a dollar.’ You don’t have to go out and raise thousands and thousands of dollars, or even hundreds of dollars. If you come and give a dollar, you are part of the Marathon of Hope.”
Registration this Sunday is at 9 a.m. with the run starting at 9:30 a.m. It goes until 11 a.m.
“It’s an opportunity to remember cancer is still here. We haven’t beaten it yet and we still need to raise money because there is work to do,” he said.