Heartwarming stories lift spirits at Wilmot Terry Fox Run's 'A Night To Inspire'

Raised $985 for Wilmot Terry Fox Run

Momentum toward the annual Wilmot Terry Fox Run continued on Thursday night, as the first "A Night to Inspire" raised $985 for the cause. 

The event, which was held at Baden's Steinmann Mennonite Church, featured uplifting and motivational presentations. 

The diverse group of speakers shared their heartwarming stories linked to the Marathon of Hope. The tone was set by Brian Bourke, from 570News, sharing his memories of being a young journalist who covered Fox's run in 1980. Bourke also talked about losing both his parents to cancer.

New Dundee teacher Jeff Heer spoke of his pride in receiving the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award in 1998, and spoke of the people in his life who have inspired him.

Sisters Ella and Ava Hanson, students at Forest Glen Public School, spoke confidently about their school's Terry Fox Run, as well as what they've learned about the Canadian icon.

Before performing live on stage, jazz musician Tim Louis got emotional as he recalled how his beloved booking agent lost his battle with cancer.

Pam Damoff MP (Oakville North-Burlington) is parliamentary secretary to the minister of health and spoke about the federal investment of $150 million in the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres network. That figure will be matched by the Terry Fox Foundation and its partners. The initiative, led by the Terry Fox Research Institute, will help cancer researchers pool resources to study and implement personalized, precision medicine.

"(It's) something I love sharing with others," Damoff said.

Toronto-based fashion model Paul Mason, speaking in conversation with Bourke, told the audience about how his "Fashion Santa" persona evolved out of his mother's death from cancer. He explained how he uses his public appearances to spread a positive message to those who are facing personal hurdles.

Angie Hallman, Ward 1 councillor in Wilmot, said on social media: "It's been a month today since I lost my Nonno (grandfather) to cancer. It made tonight extra meaningful. What an inspiring evening of stories being shared from the common inspiration of Terry Fox."
 
New Hamburg's Deanna Dakin added on Facebook, "There were lots of laughs and a few tears, but it was well worth it. If this event goes ahead next year, you should attend if you can. You will not be disappointed."

Nigel Gordijk, who co-organizes the Wilmot Terry Fox Run's fundraisers with his wife Cheryl, said: "Several people said to us afterwards that they'd like to see this event return. After feeling all the positive energy in the room at the end of the evening, we're definitely going to consider it."