For Fred, Darrell and Judith Fox, it’s been a year of ups and downs.
After coming off a successful 35th year of fundraising for the Terry Fox Foundation, the siblings got the worse news possible: Their father had cancer.
“We played the role of supporting somebody with cancer again,” Judith said.
They, along with Rolly Fox’s wife, Janet, stuck by their dad through every appointment.
He was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer — the same illness the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) had concluded a study on only 18 months prior, to look at early detection.
“The challenge with lung cancer is, in Dad’s case, once you reach Stage 4, it’s very difficult and the outcomes are not very good,” Darrell said.
Less than two months after his diagnosis, Rolly was gone, just shy of his 81st birthday.
His passing hit his children hard. Their mom, Betty, had died five years earlier. And, over the summer, they lost a cousin to the disease.
Still, his death also made clear how important their work is with the Terry Fox Foundation.
“I remember sitting in the clinic room in Abbotsford with 40 other cancer patients and it really struck me,” Judith said. “That was just one clinic, in one province, in one country. There are people all over the world going through the same thing. It really put it all into perspective.”
As the foundation’s international director since 2008, Judith, a Port Coquitlam resident, oversees about 60 runs a year in 30 countries.
Most are organized by Canadian ex-pats in diplomatic offices, the military, international schools and businesses. Since 1992, international Terry Fox Runs have collected more than $75 million for cancer research for their host nations.
The Fox siblings have travelled around the world to see their brother’s story told. In 2014, Darrell and Fred visited Abu Dhabi for the 20th anniversary of the Terry Fox Run, an event that brought out 20,000 participants and raised Dh 1.5 million in donations for cancer research in the United Arab Emirates.
Last August, Judith was invited to Chandigarh, India, where Terry Fox’s spirit also thrives thanks to the efforts the University of Fraser Valley, which has a satellite campus there, and Mohan Singh Hira Bhangoo, a Brampton, Ont., resident who comes from Chandigarh and translated a biography of Terry Fox into Punjabi.
Judith said the international runs — such as Singapore’s — sometimes stop for organizational reasons but are usually revived by the Canadian clubs, at the request of the locals.
“His story is so meaningful and the cause is so great,” she said.
Darrell, who oversees the TFRI, said Terry wanted to raise a dollar per Canadian every year to support the best and the brightest cancer researchers around the world. But while getting their research models — such as the 2014 lung cancer study — into the mainstream health care system is a major sticking point, finding enough money to fund the crucial research is TFRI’s biggest challenge, he said.
“There are lots of fantastic research projects but not enough resources,” Darrell said. “We’re simply not able to fund every project.”
Meanwhile, Fred acts as the liaison for the charity. Each September and October, as manager of supporter relations at the national office, he visits two or three provinces to rally volunteers before their runs. This week, he was in Winnipeg — the Fox family’s hometown — to speak at schools, conduct media interviews and meet with run committees around the province.
He has, for the most part, taken over Betty’s public role.
But just as their parents never forced them into the foundation work, the three Fox siblings are also allowing their own children to come into the charity on their own time.
They never knew their Uncle Terry, Fred said, but they are acutely aware of his impact across Canada and around the world.
Most of Terry’s nieces and nephews have already picked up the torch.
Kirsten, Fred’s daughter, is the school co-ordinator for the foundation’s B.C. office in Port Coquitlam; his son, Terrance, and daughter, Erin, also have spoken to schools and at events.
Judith’s daughter, Jessica, works alongside her in the national office at SFU while her other two daughters, Sarah and Tianna, are special education assistants and helping to organize runs at their respective schools (Sarah is also part of the Victoria Terry Fox Run committee).
As well, Judith’s daughter-in-law, D.J.’s wife, is lining up the Sparwood Terry Fox Run.
Darrell’s children — the youngest of the nine grandchildren, Alexandra and Connor — are supportive and want to be more involved, he said.
“We feel pretty confident and know that this legacy will continue,” Darrell said of the extended family. “We are strong because we have a whole generation to pick up the baton that Terry left for us in 1980.”
There are four sites in the Tri-Cities for the 36th annual Terry Fox Run on Sunday, Sept. 18:
• Port Coquitlam: Registration for the Hometown Run opens at 8 a.m. and the run starts at 10 a.m. in front of Hyde Creek community centre (1379 Laurier St.). The course is suitable for runners and walkers of all abilities as well as people riding bikes, using inline skates, pushing strollers or using wheelchairs. Dogs on leash are welcome. Route distances are 3 km, 5 km, 8 km and 10 km. Organized by Dave Teixeira. Keynote speaker: Bill Vigars, Terry Fox's public relations director during the Marathon of Hope. Performances by Revolving Doors. Premier Christy Clark. To volunteer, call 604-418-9177.
• Coquitlam: Registration opens at 9 a.m., run starts at 10:30 a.m. at Blue Mountain Park (off Porter Street and King Albert Avenue). Pancake breakfast to follow. Performances by the Lindbjerg Academy and Excel Martial Arts. Assistance from students at Dr. Charles Best secondary. Suitable for bikes, wheelchairs, strollers and rollerblades. Dogs on leash welcome. Route distances: 2.5 km, 5 km and 10 km. Organized by Grace Choi. Keynote speaker: Fred Tinck, Terry Fox's high school running coach. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Port Moody: Registration opens at 9 a.m., run starts at 10 a.m. at Rocky Point Park. Performance by Tony Prophet. Suitable for bikes, wheelchairs, strollers and rollerblades. Dogs on leash welcome. Route distances 2 km, 5 km and 10 km. Keynote speaker: Judith Fox, Terry's sister. Organized by Mayor Mike Clay, Elle Brovold and Sam Zacharias. To volunteer, email email@example.com.
• Anmore: Registration opens at 11:30 a.m., run starts at noon at Spirit Park (2697 Sunnyside Rd.) Suitable for bikes, wheelchairs, strollers and rollerblades. Dogs on leash welcome. Route distances 2 km and 4.5 km. Organized by Gord Bytelaar and Dave McCloskey. Keynote speaker: Britt Andersen, executive director of the Terry Fox Foundation and Belcarra resident. To volunteer, call 604-839-0564 or 778-990-0385.
ROAD CLOSURES FOR TERRY FOX RUNS
• Laurier Avenue: Closed 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., from Hyde Creek recreation centre to Coast Meridian Road
• And from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.:
• Both southbound lanes of 2500-3500 block of Coast Meridian Road to the south end of the Coast Meridian Overpass (at Kingsway Avenue);
• Both northbound lanes of 3200–3500 block Coast Meridian Road from Prairie to Patricia avenues;
• Full closure of Coast Meridian Connector, north of Tim Horton’s
• Full closure of 2100–1700 block of Kingsway Avenue from Wilson Avenue to Broadway Street;
• Full road closure of 2100-block of Kelly Avenue from Mary Hill Road to Kingsway Avenue.
• No parking on both sides of Kingsway Avenue, from Wilson Avenue to Broadway Street and 1300-block Laurier Avenue.
• Porter Street (Veteran’s Way): Closed from King Albert to Winslow avenues from 5 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Sunday (also for the Coquitlam 125 Community Heritage Picnic);
• Winslow Avenue: Closed from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. for the run start
No road closures in Port Moody or Anmore.