New Terry Fox memorial in Wilmot celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope

New Hamburg’s Riverside Brass manufactured and donated the commemorative plaque, based on Nigel Gordijk’s design. Riverside Brass photo.

On Monday, July 20, a commemorative plaque in honour of Terry Fox will be unveiled in Petersburg Park, 40 years to the day after his Marathon of Hope made its way through Wilmot. Many people saw Fox when he ran in Petersburg, Baden and New Hamburg.

The idea for the memorial was submitted to Fox’s family by Wilmot resident Nigel Gordijk, and was approved in 2019. He and his wife, Cheryl, organize the local Terry Fox Run.

Recognition projects are forbidden from using funds that have been donated to the annual fundraiser. Darrell Fox, Terry’s younger brother, said, “One of the requirements is that there should be no (public) fundraising to cover any of the costs for whatever form the recognition takes. This is in keeping with Terry’s wish that money raised in his name supports cancer research.”

The plaque was produced for free by Riverside Brass, and will be mounted on a rock that was donated and put in place by Tri City Materials. The Township of Wilmot owns Petersburg Park and approved the installation near the main entrance. The park, which is on Notre Dame Drive, is the publicly-owned location that is closest to where Fox ran along Snyder’s Road.

Tri City Materials in Petersburg donated and installed the rock that will have the memorial plaque mounted on it. Love Wilmot video.

Due to COVID-19, the unveiling ceremony will be lower key than originally planned, as provincial restrictions limited public gatherings to a maximum of 10 people.

On July 13, the Ontario government announced that physically distanced outdoor gatherings can increase from 10 people to 100, as of July 17. Despite this, the organizers will be maintaining its original guest list, in order to keep the event manageable.

The park is open to the public, who can visit the plaque at any time, but attendance at the ceremony is by invitation only.

“This is a community tribute, so the unveiling ceremony should be community-focused, too,” said Gordijk. Guests include some of the people who saw Fox running in the township in 1980, as well as a few local cancer survivors.

“Terry’s legacy is all around us. There are so many people who are alive today because they benefited from cancer research that was funded in his name. Terry dreamed of a world without cancer, and I hope that people who pass by this plaque will be uplifted and reminded that dreams are made possible if you try.”