A Port Coquitlam resident is hoping the community will rally Saturday (Aug. 12) to welcome a runner from Winnipeg who's paying tribute to the city's hometown hero, Terry Fox.
Jackson Charron-Okerlund will complete his own cross-Canada marathon at the Terry Fox Hometown Plaza behind the new Port Coquitlam Community Centre after a journey that's lasted more than six months.
Nadine Froese said she's been following Charron-Okerlund on social media since he began 159 days ago in St. John's, Newfoundland.
@crosscanadajax Mile 0 with Terry Fox… let’s get across Canada now! 🏃🏽♂️#terryfox #marathonofhope #coast2coast #cancersucks ♬ original sound - CrossCanadaJax
She said the experience has been personally moving and inspiring as her mom is enduring her third battle with cancer and she has fond recollections of her own involvement with organizing a welcome for Rick Hansen back when he rolled his wheelchair across the country.
"It really sparked a fire under me," Froese told the Tri-City News about learning of Charron-Okerlund's effort that's already raised about $100,000 for cancer research.
Froese said putting the word out on various social media groups for community members and mothers has already generated more local interest in the run and the idea of putting together a welcoming committee.
Even Mayor Brad West has pledged to put together a welcome package for Charron-Okerlund, although he's out of town and won't be able to attend personally.
Charron-Okerlund, 25, trained four years to prepare for his run. He has been posting daily videos to his TikTok and Facebook channels, chronicling some of the people he's met along the way, including a cyclist from France riding across the country in the opposite direction and other runners tackling similar challenges.
@crosscanadajax Cross Canada Marathon Day 157 update: The finale is approaching. Lets goooooo! Bless Terry. #crosscanadajax #poweredbytelus #coasttocoastforacure #cancersucks #curecrew ♬ original sound - CrossCanadaJax
Supported by an old cream-coloured Volkswagen camper van he christened MaryAn and spending many nights in shopping centre parking lots, Charron-Okerlund has endured heatwaves, wind, rain and wildfires.
In most videos, he's wearing a variation of several Terry Fox t-shirts and he proudly boasts of wearing the same weathered ball cap for the duration, collecting pins from communities he's visited along the way — that is until the hat was blown off his head while running alongside the Coquihalla Highway the other day and a passing truck ran over it, crushing all the pins.
But, Charron-Okerlund said, the hat survived and he was able to retrieve it safely and it will be on his head when he arrives in PoCo.
Froese said she's hopeful the community will turn out to greet the runner when he arrives in the city sometime between 1 and 4 p.m. A committee is putting together some food and others are working on signs, she added.
"It really warms my heart," Froese said of Charron-Okerlund's heroic run to honour his hero.
To follow Charron-Okerlund's final days on the road, you can check out his TikTok page.
@tricitynews Cross Canada Jax. 👏👟 #tricitynews #portcoquitlam #terryfox #crosscanadajax #seeyousoon ♬ original sound - TriCityNews