Terry Fox Run carries on legacy of hope

Event in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge accepting credit and debit donations on site this year.

Ali Wakeling (left)

September is a busy time for Ali Wakeling, a teacher and chair of the Terry Fox Run in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Wakeling switched schools this year, moving to Highland Park, with 300 students, from Pitt Meadows elementary, which had about 600.

And after years of teaching Grade 7, she is now in charge of a Grade 5 class.

So those changes are taking some getting used to.

“I’m adjusting now.”

She’s also in her second year as chair of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Terry Fox Run, which takes place this Sunday.

It starts again at Spirit Square Park in Pitt Meadows, after moving there from Hammond last year.

Wet weather put a damper on the event last year, as only 200 people took part.

“We put the order in for sunshine,” said Wakeling.

She’s hoping to attract about 500 participants this year and raise about $20,000.

No minimum donation is required.

“It’s a community event.”

The Pitt Meadows Lions will be offering food for donations, all of which will go to the Terry Fox Foundation.

Also new this year: participants can register and make donations online. They can also sign up at the event, which this year is accepting debit and credit cards on site.

The event starts in Spirit Square Park, but the route still goes to Hammond park, where it used to begin, maintaining a tradition that pleases Wakeling.

She also likes that the routes – one, five and 10 kilometres – follow main streets, increasing visibility.

“That’s what Terry did.”

On Sept. 1, 1980, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres, Fox stopped running outside of Thunder Bay, Ont.; his primary cancer had spread to his lungs.

He died at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster on June 28, 1981 – one month short of his 23rd birthday. But not before reaching his goal of raising $1 for every Canadian, to fight caner.

Wakeling lost her husband Sandy, a former Liberal constituency assistant and Terry Fox Run volunteer, in 2013 after a five-year battle with cancer.

“We’re doing really well,” Ali Wakeling said. “There will always be a hole in our family that will never be filled, but we move forward. That’s what you do.”

She has also recently had a friend affected by cancer, as well as a family of a former student.

“This is why we are doing this,” she said of the Terry Fox Run. “We know research makes a difference.”

Run organizers want as many people as possible to take part, “to carry on the legacy and keep Terry’s hope alive, and remember the people we’ve lost.”

Wakeling and her family will be thinking of Sandy on Sunday.


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