Terry Fox has been a hero for most of my life. He started his Marathon of Hope in April 1980. I remember seeing him on the news and watching as attention grew to him and what he was. I never got to see him in person, and that way of raising money was a foreign concept to us. I was lucky that I didn’t have the experience to really understand what he was doing and why.
Terry Fox ran 5,373 km in 143 days on a specially designed prosthetic leg that he used to replace his own that was taken by cancer. Of course, having Terry Fox as a hero is not very unusual. You’d be hard pressed to find a Canadian who doesn’t list Terry Fox as a hero. He is the youngest person to be made Companion of the Order of Canada, he was awarded the 1980 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year, and has been named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada. He has been inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the annual Terry Fox Run held across the country has raised more than $800 million for cancer research.
Terry continues to inspire people around the world – including other athletes who have started their own fundraising activities for worthwhile causes. Will Dwyer, a World War II Veteran has been having an annual walk for the Terry Fox Foundation for over 39 years and last year hit his goal of raising $1 million.
I started participating in fund-raising events in 2002 by running a marathon for the Children’s Hospital in the London Health Sciences Centre. I like the running part a lot more than the asking for money part, but was amazed by the generosity of people. Since then, I usually do at least one event every year, and especially enjoy participating in the local Terry Fox Run. It is a social event – part celebration of survivors and part memorial. It is always inspiring to see the teams of family and friends who come out faithfully year after year. More information about runs and donating can be found at the Terry Fox Foundation website at https://terry fox.org/.
This year many charity events have been cancelled or changed and things we normally do in the summer are just not an option. One night I was noodling around on the internet and stumbled across the Great Cycle Challenge. I read into it a little bit and discovered that the fundraiser started in 2016, has raised over $12,412,026 in support of research to develop treatments and find a cure for childhood cancer. I loved the Sick Kids Foundation vision – “a world without cancer where all kids are living life, not fighting for it.” https://great cyclechallenge.ca/
On further investigation, I discovered that the riding could happen throughout the month of August and could happen anywhere. I signed up and told my sister, Jennifer Cooper, about it. Twenty- four hours later, Jennifer and my Dad, George Procter, were both on board and we formed a team – The Procter Rockets. I set a personal goal of cycling 150 km, wondering if I could fit that in – it sounded like a lot.
My uncle Charlie, who is 96, regularly rides a stationary bike. We asked him if he’d be interested in joining our team and he told us he would, but that he didn’t ride very much, only 9 km every day. He also pointed out that he had just hit the 6,000 km mark on his bike that he got two and a half years ago. My Dad was equally active on his stationary bike. I quickly did the math on that and realized that I better up my game or I’d be left in their dust!
We are now almost to the halfway mark of our August challenge as I write this. I am amazed to report that our team, with more members – Arnie Spivey, Anne Procter, and Helen Otterman – has just hit $5,530 in donations and we’ve cycled almost half of our 1,200 kilometre team goal.
My Dad, Jennifer, and I have been able to explore and enjoy some of the most beautiful parts of Ontario on various rail trails that are perfect for people of all abilities. We are lucky to have a supportive pit crew: my mom, Elizabeth Procter, who drives the vehicle and meets us at the other end of our ride. We’ve had lots of picnics looking at the water and meet others who are cycling in the same Challenge. It is inspiring to be part of something bigger than us and to get out into our beautiful natural areas. And for the more competitive members of our family – watching the kilometers add up for other team members also provides some inspiration! ◊