Leighann Rodger saw Terry Fox run the first Marathon of Hope in 1980, only she can’t quite remember it.
Mostly that’s because she was a baby in her mother’s arms back in Oakville, Ontario.
Also, her mom didn’t have a camera handy.
“I said to my mom, ‘Did you take any pictures?’ and she said no. That’s about the story of my life!”
Today, Terry Fox’s story is known worldwide, and over $700 million has been raised for cancer research in his name — far surpassing his original goal of raising $1 for every Canadian.
And Haida Gwaii does its part.
Rodger helped organize this year’s Terry Fox Run in Queen Charlotte on Sunday, which has been going since 1986.
As principal of Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary School, she sees a new generation learn about Fox, who was 21 and an amputee when he started his cross-country run from St. John’s, Newfoundland. He averaged 42 km a day for 143 days until his cancer spread to his lungs, cutting his own run short near Thunder Bay, Ontario.
That part can be tough to speak about with the youngest students, but Rodger said kids catch on quick to the amazing goal he set. At Sk’aadgaa Naay, kindergarteners to Grade 7s all run a there-and-back route, and every one can do as many laps as they want to. Schools on the islands each host a run in the lead-up to the weekend community events.
In Queen Charlotte on Sunday, some ran 10 km from the community hall toward the ferry landing, while others did 5 km, walked, or rode bicycles.
Up in Masset, Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay teacher and cross-country running coach Christine Cunningham had the high school team start out first — for them, this year’s 6.2 km Terry Fox run around the Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary was the first in a series of Sunday runs leading up to this year’s northwest zones championship.
Masset firefighter Sylvan Daugert had the firehall BBQ going for everyone when they looped back from a crisp run in the woods. Lunch came courtesy of the Haida Gwaii Co-op, which provided food and drinks for the Q.C. run as well.
All told, the Queen Charlotte run raised $1,615 and the Masset run raised $1,296 for cancer research through the Terry Fox Foundation. Eighty two cents of every dollar raised will go directly to research funding.
“It’s a really good cause,” said Rodger. “And any time you see people out exercising and having fun it’s a good thing.”