By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Forty years after Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, communities are still feeling the impacts of his determination.
At least that was the case for Dresden residents, who did not let a pandemic stop them from raising cancer awareness and funds.
On Sunday, Dresden celebrated 25 years since its inaugural marathon, raising $25,000.
“We are thrilled and thankful,” said organizer Cindy Brewer.
In 1995, Brewer had three days to plan Dresden’s first local Terry Fox Run. One hundred locals showed up and $6,000 was raised.
Eventually, Dresden would go on to be known as one of Ontario’s most successful Terry Fox marathons. It raised the most money per capita three years in a row, and came in second place the last two years.
“People here just embrace the whole run. There’s really quite a lot of small hometown pride,” she said.
Last year, second-place was earned with a total of $38,000 raised.
This year, there were 84 runners registered, and the $25,000 total is still climbing. Brewer said that more donations will be coming in, as some donors have opted to mail in checks due to the pandemic.
Terry Fox’s brother, Fred Fox, made an online video congratulating Dresden on its anniversary and for raising more than $640,000 in the past two-and-a-half decades.
“It means so much to our family and the Terry Fox Foundation,” he said. “You’re an amazing community with lots of Terry Fox spirit.”
COVID-19 has changed the way fundraising events are being hosted in 2020. This year, the marathon went virtual with the slogan “One Day, Your Way.”
Participants signed up online and found routes close to their homes or hearts, where they walked, ran or cycled in isolation.
The money raised this year was an amazing feat given the current circumstances, according to Brewer, who is extremely happy with the virtual success, but not at all surprised.
“When it comes around, all participants just own it and we’re still sensing the excitement this year. It really took off online.”
Brewer has seen a lot of cancer within her family, and looking at the progress made in treatments and research has given her hope.
“Terry has become like a member of the family,” she said.
Her favourite moment, after 25 years of organizing the Dresden run, was seeing how it has become a family tradition.
Children who were once doing the walk in a stroller pushed by their parents now sit on the committee and are carrying their own kids through the marathon. Brewer herself walked with her granddaughter born last Tuesday.
“To think we are part of a family tradition is a wonderful feeling to carry,” she said.
Brewer said the event continues to go strong years later, even in a pandemic, because Terry Fox’s values continue to resonate.
“I think the things he accomplished have never been repeated, and his intentions were so pure and true. Any Canadian can relate to those values,” she said.