Fred Fox praises Minden run
Tears, applause and a standing ovation spoke volumes about what it meant to the people of Minden to see Fred Fox, Terry Fox’s older brother, speak at the Minden Hills Community Centre.
Fred, who is the manager of supporter relations for the Terry Fox Foundation, was in Minden as part of an Ontario tour, sharing his brother’s story and giving credit for keeping Terry’s dream alive, raising awareness and money for cancer research.
He came to Minden to kick off this year’s 25th anniversary of the Minden Terry Fox Run, which has raised a little more than $280,000. This year’s run is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 9 a.m., starting from the Minden Hills Community Centre.
He said while in Scarborough, just before coming to Toronto during Terry’s cross-country run to raise money for cancer research, the Marathon of Hope, his brother believed the run would continue without him.
“Even if I don’t finish we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me,” he said. “And that’s what people like you. Small towns like Minden are continuing to do every year.”
Terry died only a month before his 23rd birthday on June 28, 1981, but running events in his name continue and are held at more than 760 sites around the world, including Canada. The first Terry Fox Runs were held a few months after he died later that year in September.
Fred commended Minden for its efforts.
“You’re truly making a difference in [making] Terry’s dream and legacy [live on for] the lives of so many people and I want to thank you for what you do,” he said
Leading the effort in Minden the past dozen years has been Diane Peacock, who choked back tears when asked about the significance of Fred’s public appreciation and presence.
“Just to hear him say, ‘thank you’ like that is phenomenal,” she said.
Peacock, like many, has had loved ones affected by cancer.
“The Terry Fox Foundation and the Terry Fox Run are very important in my life. I’ve lost members [of family] to cancer,” she said.
Her great niece’s cancer has been in remission for nine years.
She is quick to defer credit for the success of the Minden run to the volunteers, and, most importantly, the other members of the Minden Hills Terry Fox Run Committee, which includes Jeanne Anthon, Barb Millington, Pat Brezina, Jennifer Hughey, Dana Manning, Joan Taylor, Rozanne Hynard, Steve Taylor, Cindy O’Hanley, Sue Smallwood, Ron and Linda Nesbitt.
With a staff of just 30 people across the country, Peacock characterizes the work performed by the small staff of the Terry Fox Foundation as nothing short of “remarkable.”
“The Terry Fox Foundation to me epitomizes what charities should be. Eighty-two cents of every dollar that we raise goes right into research,” she said.
Before Fred left to visit Whitby on Saturday, he spent the day in Minden, starting with raising the Terry Fox flag in the morning at the township office, then gave a speech about how he knew Terry as his brother and the challenges and triumphs of the Marathon of Hope, and finished his time with the Minden event’s committee at a barbecue.
Fox made the trip from Toronto to Minden. It was part of a week of visits in Ontario, starting Monday, Sept. 3. He left for his home in British Columbia on Sunday, Sept. 9.
Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin presented Fox with a township flag while Peacock gave him a Minden Terry Fox Run hat.
When Terry told him he was going to run across the county, he never realized history would be made. In hindsight, Fred remembers his brother’s determination and unwavering focus on completing a task, no matter the odds or who believed him. His brother had a belief he could do anything. He was not the best athlete, and yet, he never let that stop him from achieving his goals.
Ever since Terry was 12, he told them he would play basketball in university.
Despite his friends’ incredulity, he told them: I won’t know unless I try.
His tenacity and work ethic earned him a spot with the basketball team at Simon Fraser University – the only Canadian university that plays against U.S. universities in NCAA division II. The coaching staff at the university said he was an example for the other players, making them better.
It is this inspiration that continues in all the events held in honour of the Marathon of Hope.
“It’s truly Terry that keeps this thing going. Terry’s values of never giving up. Terry’s values of not doing it for any other reason, but to make a difference in other people’s lives. [This was] not to become rich or famous. None of that stuff mattered to Terry. He wanted to make a difference and because of people like you in small communities is why the foundation and the Terry Fox Run has raised close to $800 million for cancer research,” he said.