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Sep. 21, 2019 | Saturday
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Joan King is keeping Terry Fox’s dream alive
This year's Terry Fox run is on Sept. 15. Run organizer Joan King says she receives tremendous support throughout town. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now

Terry Fox wanted to take a stand and run for cancer research and Joan King aims to keep that vision alive through fundraising events and organizing the Terry Fox Run in NOTL on Sept. 15.

The run takes participants through a five-kilometre stretch starting at Simcoe Park, travelling up King Street to John Street, then following Ricardo Street to King, and back to Simcoe Park. A video outlining the route can be found on the town’s website at notl.org.

Participants can walk, run, bike or rollerblade, and are asked to donate whatever they can. Donations of $20 or more will be issued a tax-receipt. King said all she asks for is $1 a person.

“That was Terry’s vision, wasn’t it? Just one dollar from each person in Canada. Terry only wanted one dollar, we have a population of about 15,000 and I think we got to $10,000 (in 2007). Now we’re at $113,000,” she said.

Registration is at 9 a.m., and the run kicks off at 10 a.m., with a barbecue to follow.

Last year, King said $113,538.43 was raised through the community run with 250 participants, and another $3,865.05 was raised through school events.

King took the reigns of the charitable run in 2007 and has been striving to bring more awareness and raise more money for the Terry Fox Foundation ever since. She said she answered a call for volunteers to help organize the event and has had a hand in revitalizing the charity to the community-wide engagement it has become today.

“I’m a retired teacher, I used to just do it at school with the kids. Then when I came down to do the community run, there was nobody here. They had put a note in the paper saying we need someone to organize a run down in Niagara-on-the-Lake or we’re going to lose it,” she said.

“I thought, ‘Well I’ll step up to the plate.’ It’s something that we can’t lose,” King added.

It’s the support of the community that King said has made the event so successful the last several years.

Since the Terry Fox Run first came to NOTL in 1991, the community has raised $789,708 for cancer research and the foundation.

“It’s just so nice the way the whole community comes together for a good cause, and they’re willing to donate or support in some way,” she said.

Terry Fox’s vision was simple, she said, though it wasn’t easy. She said she’s inspired by his drive to do more and the message that one person can make a big difference.

“He was in a hospital and he saw suffering and he wanted to do something about it. Look how he was suffering. Running a marathon a day for 143 days. Oh, my gosh, how can it be possible. ‘Miracles happen,’ he said. And even if he didn’t finish, it had to continue,” she said.

“That’s what we’re doing. He passed the torch to us to continue this dream, this vision.”

Before the walk on the 15th, those wanting to help raise money for the cause can do so at a Trivia Night on Sept. 6.

Tunes for Terry music trivia night will take place at the community centre at 7 p.m.

King recommends purchasing tickets for a team at a table of eight. Individual tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or by contacting King at 905-262-5898, or Yvonne Grecco at 905-468-3055. Seating is limited so registering in advance is recommended.

“It’s going to be a really great time,” King said.

Planning for the run on Sept. 15 started in May, she said, with a conference in Toronto kickstarting the year’s fundraising goals, though she said she starts to “blitz it closer to the date.”

“Not only is it about raising funds for cancer research, it’s also about bringing together community, friends, people. It’s remembering those who we’ve lost, supporting those who are still fighting, and just honouring those who have won the fight. It’s just so refreshing to see everyone there and enjoying the moment,” King said.

King lists many community supporters of the run this year: The Kinsmen who are holding a bike and wine tour on Sept. 14, are donating proceeds to the foundation; Grape Escape Wine Tours purchased almost 60 shirts for their team to wear during the weekend of the run and have been collecting donations in-store leading up to the event; Stage Coach on Queen Street is donating proceeds from its pancake breakfast on Sept. 15 to the foundation; The Sandtrap donates pizzas for the run day and after the run, the Rotary Club does a barbecue; Walker’s Country Market donates fruit for participants; and Tim Hortons has coffee and treats for all the participants, she said.

“There’s so much more to it than just raising money. It’s such a rewarding thing to do,” King said.

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