About thirty-five years ago a scrawny curly haired boy, just eighteen years old, stood in front of a local crowd in a bowling alley and thanked everyone for supporting his ambition to run across Canada.
“Umm. Do you realize how big this country is?”
This was the tongue in cheek response of teacher Pat Dion when he first heard Terry Fox speak about his plan to run across the country during the fundraiser in their mutual hometown of Port Coquitlam. But what started off as playful skepticism turned into years of serious dedication to the Terry Fox run, which includes participating in the very first run held in Port Coquitlam.
Mr. Dion was kind enough to share his bowling alley story and his enthusiasm for the Terry Fox Foundation with the students and staff of Nakusp Secondary School during an informative assembly designed to re-familiarize students with the plight of Terry Fox. Students were treated to several speeches from members of the district including Susan Patterson and district superintendent Denise Perry who spoke passionately about their experiences with the annual run in an attempt to fight against this uniquely Canadian event falling into the pitfalls of archaic routine. The assembly kicked off the Terry Fox fundraiser and launched the school into preparations for the annual Terry Fox run held on September 27.
In the days leading up to the school run a group of students were working hard at the high school to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation. Students Joshua Sorenson, Kendra Kaylen and Monica Shiell took it upon themselves to take the donation jar off the desk in the front office and engage in a more active approach to fundraising.
The group set up a Terry Fox display in the main hall of the high school and posed the question to staff and students, “Who are you running for?” Individuals who donated were given pledge declarations, which were filled out with the names of family members and friends in answer to the thematic fundraising question and were posted in the main hall. The student group went public with their goal of raising $499.99 dollars and through ad campaigns and daily announcements encouraged the student body of Nakusp Secondary to donate what they could.
On the day of the run several last minute donations were dropped off, including a large bag of change from one generous student who scoured their room for every piece of silver or copper for the cause. But despite the last demonstrations of support, the group fell short of their monitory goal. However, in the very spirit of Terry Fox himself, the student group informed me that they would continue fundraising after the school run with their own “Wipe Out Cancer” campaign, which involves the sale of cleaning cloths that were cut and stitched by the students from scrap fabric.
In the bright autumn sun, on Thursday that was anything but archaic, the students and staff of Nakusp Secondary School lined up along a masking tape starting line, eager to begin the run that would take them on a tour of the highlights of Nakusp.
Inside the school the wall of names posted in the glass display case stood as a reminder of the very real and significant reasons why Nakusp continues to rise to Terry Fox’s summon that “even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue.”