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Commentary: Water Valley's faithful return for Terry Fox

Like many people, I have lost too many relatives and friends to cancer but celebrate the triumphs of therapies like stem cell and new drugs that have saved many lives
Mary Thomson, second from left, poses with Water Valley Terry Fox Run participants and family. Submitted photo

Another successful Terry Fox run in Water Valley hosted 40 participants and volunteers on a sunny Sunday as families gathered to walk, run and ride the route with family and friends to raise an amazing $ 7800.00 this year in donations and t-shirt sales. 

Some online tallies are yet to come in.

Many faithful participants and families have been here for almost every run since we started in 1984. The foundation gave our official AB1188 site in 1989 and so funds to date since then are well over $220,000. The school run was held Sept. 21 and their total to date is almost $60,000 since 2004. The school participation ensures our younger generation will carry on Terry’s legacy into the future.

For several years, Jill Fournier, Sheila Fournier and Jeannette Weiss host a Friends of Terry Fox Run on Saturday and bring their proceeds to donate to our run as well. This was their best year contributing $1,735. Then their family walked and rode the route at our day. After the run, friends gathered to enjoy a barbecue and homemade goodies and comradery. The memorial banner held many names in honour of ones lost to cancer, living with cancer and cancer survivors as we pause to recognize them all.

Terry Fox has inspired generations of followers who can remember seeing him on TV as he struggled to endure pain with each step with a face filled with determination and strength.

How our nation mourned when he was forced to shut down his Marathon in Thunder Bay, Sept. 1, 1980 when the cancer had spread to his lungs. Terry later died June 21, 1981, he was 22 years old.

His family continued his wishes that there be a Marathon of Hope with strict guidelines to ensure money raised be for research for all types of cancer.

The Terry Fox Foundation has a record of 78 cents of every dollar for cancer research being accomplished with volunteerism being the backbone of its principals.

His Mother, Betty Fox, spoke to thousands of school children over the years to inspire the next generation to see his vision: a world without cancer. Terry’s Dad, Roly Fox, continued as an ambassador after Betty’s passing and brothers Fred and Darrell have devoted their lives to be part of the Fox team as well as many family members. 

Terry’s original van from his Marathon of Hope has been restored and is on display at Gasoline Alley in Heritage Park in Calgary until sometime in January. There is quite an interesting story how it came back to be restored as it was sold years ago.

To date some $850 million has been raised in Canada and worldwide, with runs held in many other countries. Projects funded each year collaborate across the country with the latest technology of precision therapies, immunotherapy, early detection, bio-banking and new cancer drugs and treatments with an investment last year of $21.3 million. 

The research and projects are for all types of cancer with research being conducted in more than one region across Canada. Each year survival rates are improving with the highest for thyroid (98 per), testicular (97 per cent), prostate (96 per cent), melanoma (89 per cent) and Hodgkin lymphoma (85 per cent). There are some interesting articles on the TerryFox.Org site Cancer Research: It’s Working with some of the latest projects and a focus on the Terry Fox Foundation’s dedicated research teams.

The theme this year of “Dear Terry” has asked every Canadian to share your thoughts how Terry has inspired or made a lasting impression on you. There were postcards for you to share your thoughts or go online to participate.  

Like many people, I have lost too many relatives and friends to cancer but celebrate the triumphs of therapies like stem cell and new drugs that have saved many lives. I feel honoured to be a volunteer with the annual run each year and be a small part in this vision of hope for a better world without cancer. 

We appreciate the dedication of our community for your donations, sponsors, businesses, the Water Valley EMS crew for patrolling the route to slow down traffic, our participants and volunteers who make this all possible.

For stories on research and facts about the Terry Fox Foundation go to  If you missed getting a donation done, you can do so online at, our call number is AB1188.  If you received a pledge form you can mail directly to the Terry Fox Foundation and also Memorial donations can be made as well.  Call Mary 403 637 2458 for Memorial cards.

Mary Thomson is a Water Valley resident and organizer of the community's annual Terry Fox run.


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