Wilmot Terry Fox Run organizers encouraged and inspired after online meeting with Terry’s siblings

The Terry Fox Foundation (TFF) held its first ever virtual meeting for run organizers on Saturday, April 11, ahead of the following day’s 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Marathon of Hope. The Zoom meeting had 125 attendees from across Canada, including Cheryl and Nigel Gordijk, who lead the Wilmot event.

“This is such an inspiring day, it’s an inspiring weekend,” said Martha McClew, Ontario director of the TFF, who led the gathering. “I can’t imagine a better way to spend it than with people who live the life that Terry asked us to live, which is giving back and being there for each other.”

Terry’s siblings were special guests at the meeting. Older brother Fred read part of Terry’s journal entry for the day when he set off on his epic run, describing the events that led up to the first steps. Poignantly, Fred added that he thought about the extended family Terry would now have, with his nieces, nephews and a great grandnephew.

Sister Judith Fox was 15 years old when Terry set off, and she became emotional as she shared her memories.

“I remember the worry and concern of my parents. I remember crying uncontrollably at the airport before he left for St. Johns, even though I didn’t really understand why I had these feelings.”

It didn’t take long for Judith to realize the enormity of Terry’s task. “He was going to push himself to the limits because he did not want another person to suffer from or die of cancer.”

“This is the day that it all began, for each of us, for each of you. Little did Terry know when he began his Marathon of Hope that he had an unknown, yet to be seen army of crusaders.”

Run organizers had an opportunity to pose questions to the Foxes. “If Terry was doing the Marathon of Hope in 2020, but you still had the knowledge of the 1980 run, what advice would you give him?” asked one. Fred said his advice would be, “Eat better on the road, instead of everything on the menu.”

Judith would have told Terry not to change what he did in 1980 and to do things his way. “That’s what I fell in love with about Terry. He was so honest, he was so raw, so inspiring.” She also thought about how Terry would have used social media to reach more people.

Wilmot Terry Fox Run leads Nigel and Cheryl Gordijk said they were inspired by the inaugural virtual meeting for run organizers. “It was humbling and an honour to spend time with the Fox family,” said Cheryl.

Nigel Gordijk asked if there was anything organizers could do to support parents as they’ve taken on the role of teachers while schools are shut down. McClew replied that the Foundation has sent out activity sheets to school run organizers, which are available to the public at https://terryfox.org/activity-sheets/. “We also have an incredible library of lesson plans on our website, under Educator Resources.”

“In some way, shape or form, there will be a Terry Fox Run in September. I don’t think there is any way that could not happen. We don’t know exactly what it looks like, but that will be coming,” said McClew, in bringing the meeting to a close.

“I can’t tell you what encouragement and inspiration this call has given me.”

“It lifted my spirits and inspired me,” agreed Nigel. “I was trying to figure out how to inspire our community, and when I woke up on Sunday morning, I was full of ideas.”

Cheryl added, “It was humbling and an honour to spend time with the Fox family, and hear them share their stories about Terry, especially at this time.”

Even though there are currently no in-person fundraisers, supporters can donate online at http://terryfox.org/donate/.