Wilmot businesses boost local Terry Fox Run's bottom line

One of the things that makes the Wilmot Terry Fox Run unique is that it holds fundraisers throughout the whole year. Many of them are hosted by local businesses, whose efforts have helped boost the annual fundraising. In 2018 - out of an estimated total of $34,000 for the year - Wilmot businesses contributed more than $10,000, all of which was donated to the Terry Fox Foundation for cancer research.

These events tend to be based on something that's closely associated with the businesses that are hosting them. Scran & Dram has served a breakfast on Run Day in September since 2016, donating all the profits. Sabrina Hutchison, who, with her husband Dave, owns the New Hamburg restaurant, finds it gratifying that their efforts are making a difference.

"We get to see people come in and enjoy breakfast before the run, so we get a real-time sense of how successful the event will be every year. The monetary updates we get are a great way for contributors like us to see how every little bit helps. Understanding that you're part of a small community that raises tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research is a great feeling."

"The year-round dedication to such an important charity encourages us to contribute in a meaningful way," she adds. "The involvement of community members is also very inspiring. To witness a very large portion of our community coming together helped us realize the importance of making a difference."

Hutchison says that because of her fundraiser "we get to hear personal stories of how people have been affected by cancer, or what the charity means to them." She also likes to encourage them before their participation in the run.

Artist Jill Bossence, owner of Dundee Doodle Studio in New Dundee, has been part of the Wilmot Terry Fox Run since 2017, when she hosted a Marathon of Hope-themed paint social evening and donated the profits. In 2018, she was one of the local artists who offered their creativity for free by decorating 12 Muskoka chairs for the Chairs of Hope auction. She feels that the township-wide events held throughout the year aren't just about raising money. "If anything, they've helped people be more aware" about cancer research.

She's inspired by Fox's efforts. "Watching and following him on TV when I was younger makes me feel I can identify with him more. Now I look forward to getting involved and donating something every year."

John Jordan and his wife Kathie also contributed an artistic Muskoka chair that was auctioned. Kathie Jordan Design on Peel Street is one of the New Hamburg businesses that hosts concerts for the Marathon of Shows music festival, held since 2017. John says, "We always want to help out with local organizations wherever we can, and when we can help with a hands-on experience, it's even more enticing for us."

James Aoki, owner of New Hamburg Lanes, hosted a Terry Fox fundraiser for the first time in 2018, when customers were asked for a donation instead of the regular bowling fee. Like many people, his reason for wanting to help find a cure for cancer is personal. "Both my parents lost their battles with cancer. My Mom was the hardest, as she died on Christmas Day 2011. Many years later, it is still hard to think about her on that day."

Aoki is also inspired by Fox. "Being involved not only shows compassion, but also the willingness to help others." Echoing the Fox ethos that every dollar makes a difference, Aoki hopes that "any amount raised from New Hamburg Lanes will one day help find a cure."

For Dr. Glen Blier, owner of New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic, cancer has also hit close to home. "I remember as a child watching Terry run his Marathon of Hope and not really understanding what cancer meant. A short time later when I was 14, I found out it's true impact. My father was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died 3 short months later."

That experience is what compels him to support the Wilmot Terry Fox Run, and his clinic donates all proceeds from pet nail trims in March and April every year. $2,400 has been raised for cancer research since 2017, and the fundraiser is back again from March 1. "It takes a community to take this fight to cancer," says Blier.

He adds: "I feel that our team makes a difference both financially and in raising awareness (of cancer research) and continuing Terry's legacy. The Terry Fox Run seems to stimulate people and generate a team spirit. I enjoy being part of the local effort and look forward to honouring my father's memory by continuing to support this worthy event each year.