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Norfolk Terry Fox Run goes virtual for second year

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Like fundraising organizers across the country, Jenn Kaczynski, chair of the Norfolk Terry Fox Run, said the COVID-19 pandemic has made her job more challenging.

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Normally an event that brings together several hundred people in Simcoe’s Lions Park to walk, run, and raise money for cancer research, the run is being held virtually for the second year amid ongoing health protocols.

“It was really hard last year because of the times we’re in,” said Kaczynski. “It’s harder to get the participation. There was a really big difference in the amount of money we raised.”

In a typical year, the Norfolk event would bring in about $12,000. Last year’s total was $4,600. But the need in the community hasn’t diminished.

That’s why Kaczynski said it’s more important than ever to support this year’s Norfolk Terry Fox Run being held on Sept. 19.

Despite this year’s obstacles, the Terry Fox Foundation is promoting the run as a way to unite in spirit, if not in person. Canadians are being asked to raise funds online (or make a donation) and do something wherever they are – walk, run or ride around their neighbourhood or backyard and then share their experience on social media.

There is no local fundraising target this year, said Kaczynski. The goal is to just keep people participating in the now iconic event.

“It’s so important to continue Terry’s legacy because he really is a Canadian hero.”

Fox was just 21, having had his right leg amputated six inches above the knee due to bone cancer, when he began what he called his Marathon of Hope in St. John’s, Nfld. on April 12, 1980.

He planned an east to west cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Fox’s goal for the Marathon of Hope was to raise $22 million, a dollar from every person then living in Canada. He ran close to 42 kilometres a day for 143 days before lung cancer forced him to stop. He died on June 28, 1981 at the age of 22.

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The annual Terry Fox Run now involves millions of participants in more than 60 countries and is the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research. More than $850 million has been raised in his name.

Kaczynski said Norfolk has held a run since 2003 and raised more than $260,000 since that time. In addition to the community run, local schools hold their own fundraising events with thousands of students participating.

Norfolk residents who want to get involved in this year can register online at terryfox.org/run as an individual, family, or virtual team and start fundraising. Then, on the weekend, walk, run, bike, or organize another activity and post it on the Norfolk Terry Fox Run Facebook page.

“People need a reason to get out and this is a great reason to do it,” said Kaczynski. “We really feel that next year we’ll be able to get back on track.”

Contributions to the Terry Fox Foundation can also be made by dropping off empty beer and wine bottles at a bin set up on Highway 3 and Fertilizer Road.

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