Without cheers, crowds or fanfare, runners set out from the Minden Community Centre Sept. 20, carrying the spirit of Terry Fox despite the pandemic limiting the event.
Social distancing rules cancelled the traditional masses of people joining to raise money for cancer research, in honour of the famed runner who lost his life to the disease. Instead, the Terry Fox Foundation asked people to join in its first-ever virtual event, having them run or walk in smaller numbers wherever they could.
Minden Terry Fox Run organizer Barb Millington joined with 10 locals to traverse the traditional route and carry on the 25-year event. Last year, it raised $20,500, but Millington said that figure decreased to more than $5,000 with fewer participants.
“It’s disappointing that we can’t get the numbers of people, which translated into dollars,” Millington said. “But we’re doing what we can. That’s the best we can do.”
Runners across Haliburton County participated in the virtual run, joining with thousands across the country.
Despite the circumstances, participants in Minden said it was important to carry on the tradition. Breast cancer survivor Kim Goyne said though the run is not as uplifting without the crowds, the cause needs support even during COVID-19.
“I’m sure I, as well as millions of other people, have benefitted from that research,” Goyne said. “In these times where people’s incomes are very challenged, it’s important we still remember charities need support as well.”
Participant and long-time Minden Terry Fox Run volunteer Joan Taylor said it is an event that is not going to die.
“Everybody’s family has been impacted by cancer,” Taylor said. “It’s just such a moving moment. We’ve lost young people in our family to cancer. I hope they’re there with us today.”
Millington said it is uncertain whether a full-scale event can carry on next year. If it does go ahead, Millington said she could not organize it and they will need to find someone new. But this year, the Terry Fox Run persevered despite the difficult circumstances, much like the person who inspired it.
“It’s important to keep it out there in the spotlight,” Goyne said. “It’s something that helps a lot of people in these times when there’s a lot of challenges. It’s nice to be able to do something positive.”