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Students across Winnipeg School Division are off and running every September—for a great cause.
The annual Terry Fox Run takes place on Sept. 16; it is traditionally held on second Sunday after Labour Day. Schools take part in their own version of the event, the Terry Fox School Run, on Sept. 27. Participation in the fundraiser for cancer research and respite has become a longstanding tradition at schools across Canada; students and staff continue to be inspired by the athlete that embarked on a cross-Canada run after losing a leg to cancer.
One of the many participating schools is Prairie Rose School; prior to the end of the school year, the school had the honour of hosting Terry's brother, Fred Fox.
"This was an amazing opportunity for our students to feel even more connected to the Terry Fox Run," said Principal Ken Romaniuk.
Mr. Fox visited the school to thank students and staff for participating in the Terry Fox School Run for over 25 years.
Mr. Fox was Terry's older brother by just 14 months; like all of the Fox siblings, they were born in Winnipeg. He still continues his brother's dream by working with the Terry Fox Foundation.
"We like to visit as many schools across Canada, at different times of year, as we can," he said. "We'd like to thank you for what you have done…Prairie Rose has been involved in the run since the time it opened in 1993."
Mr. Fox stressed that Terry wasn't a larger-than-life individual.
"You might think of Terry as being a Canadian hero or a famous Canadian, and that's okay," Mr. Fox said. "But I should tell you that Terry never thought of himself that way. That's not why Terry was running across Canada…Terry wanted to make a difference in other people's lives."
As Mr. Fox explained, Terry wasn't an extraordinary athlete or exceptionally strong. But he had unwavering determination.
"Terry was just an average, ordinary kid," Mr. Fox said.
"You might think because he was running every day for the Marathon of Hope…42 kilometres every day, that he must have been a super athlete, a super human. But he wasn't. Terry would be the first to tell you he was an average, ordinary athlete. He had to work harder than anybody else did.
"Finishing what you start…that became one of Terry's mottos, one of the things he truly believed in, from the time he was in elementary school, high school, when he went on to university and even the Marathon of Hope."
But when the cancer that had taken his leg returned—and moved to his lungs—Terry Fox had to stop his cross-Canada run after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres. He ran his final day of the marathon in September, 1980, outside of Thunder Bay.
The Marathon of Hope was not over, however; countless Canadians and over 33 countries around the world continue to support the dream of ending cancer by running and fundraising.
"Before he passed away, somebody said to him, 'what do you think of us having an annual event every year, we'll call it the Terry Fox Run and continue to raise money for cancer research.' Terry thought that was a great idea. It was Terry who chose September for the Terry Fox Run, because he was forced to stop on in Thunder Bay on Sept. 1."
At the end of the assembly, Mr. Fox presented students and staff with banners marking every five years of Prairie Rose's participation in the Terry Fox Run. Each banner is emblazoned with the message: Terry Fox Lives Here.
Phys. Ed. Teacher Scott Smoke said the run gave Prairie Rose a sense of purpose and community right from the outset of the school year.
"It's a good way to bring the school community together at the start of the year, and like Mr. Fox said, everybody knows somebody that is affected by cancer in some way or another."
For more information on Terry Fox and the annual Terry Fox Run, please visit: http://www.terryfox.org .