40 Years On: Memories of Terry Fox in Wilmot

A determined Terry Fox grimaces as he runs past The Blue Moon in Petersburg on Sunday, July 20, 1980. Photo Shelley Vollmer.

40 years ago, the Marathon of Hope connected communities across Canada. On Sunday, July 20, 1980, Terry Fox made his way through New Hamburg, Baden and Petersburg, taking a well-earned rest in New Dundee before completing the day’s run.

Fox left an indelible footprint in history with his heroic efforts. Local residents share their memories of the day that the Marathon of Hope came to Wilmot.

Tom Burnard

I was living in Guelph at the time and worked at Hybrid Turkeys on a farm near Haysville. Coming along Highway #7 on a warm, foggy morning - not sure exactly where, but I think somewhere between Trussler and Notre Dame - I saw police lights flashing, slowed down, and saw they were escorting Terry Fox on his run. It was just two lanes then, and he was coming East. I waved and he smiled through the pain.

Many years later, on a bike trip around Lake Superior, we stopped at the Terry Fox memorial. Not understanding why, I melted into tears.

Geoff Dubrick and his brother Shawn near The Blue Moon’s parking lot, where they stood 40 years ago to see Terry Fox. Photo Nigel Gordijk.

Geoff Dubrick and his brother Shawn in Petersburg, near The Blue Moon’s parking lot, where they stood 40 years ago to see Terry Fox. Photo Nigel Gordijk.

Geoff Dubrick

I was 10, and (brother) Shawn was pushing 13. I remember our St. Agatha Catholic School teacher telling us Terry Fox was coming through. Growing up here, there wasn’t a whole lot to do, yet. You played baseball, you had a hockey stick, or we’d play down at the park with our bikes. So, having an event like this roll through Petersburg was pretty big.

I remember looking down (Notre Dame Dr.) and seeing the police car with the single beacon light, so we knew he was coming closer. There was a lot of people, over 100. I’m sure everybody in town was out. I can remember Wally Geis reached out to donate $20. I was standing in the parking lot of The Blue Moon and reached out to high-five him as he went by.

David Vollmer

Terry ran through Petersburg, right in front of our house. It was kind of funny. I was staring at him as he jogged towards me, and I was standing in his path. He said, “Hey kid, you are in my way!” He was laughing as he said it. I was just in awe.

I ran with him and remember having quite a conversation for a couple of kilometres. Seems like yesterday. A memory I will cherish forever. A remarkable man.

Scott Shantz

I was 15 and I lived up on Brewery Street in Baden. My friends and I were up by the four-way stop there at Louisa Street and Brewery, and we saw the camper van go by. We knew it was going on, but we didn’t know when he was coming through town. We just happened to be out on our bikes. Terry was on Gingerich Road, but at that time that was Highway 7&8, and he was just crossing Foundry Street. He was headed west, towards New Hamburg, up the hill past where Erb Transport and Baden Coffee are now. We got down there before he started going up the hill, and we were like, “Whoa, there he is!”

Bobbi Williams

My husband and I and our three kids sat in our motorhome at the corner of Walker Road, going down into New Hamburg, coming from Stratford. We were waiting to see him. We saw him come all along that bend, and the (police) lights flashing and everything. When he went by, we just sat there quietly and watched him go. It was the most memorable moment, to this day. We were all in tears. I still get a lump in my throat. I admired that wonderful young man.

The most memorable statue that I think everyone should see is the one in Ottawa of Terry. I worked for a tour company, and we used to go on the bus and take the tourists down by Parliament. It’s incredible. It just chokes you up to even see it.