Just five minutes into a chat with Haley Fawcett and you can sense that she is one exceptional young woman who has been at the helm of the annual Meaford Terry Fox Run for the past four years.
Haley has been the principal organizer of the annual fundraising event since 2014, since she was 15 years old. She is committed to organize this year’s event one last time.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “I am getting married in the spring and moving to Kentucky.” Haley is engaged to be married to former Knights of Meaford hockey player Kevin Quinlan. Kevin is American and together they will make their home in Kentucky.
“Like Terry Fox, my hope is that the people will continue to support the event. It was Terry’s goal in the end for people to just turn out and show their support for cancer research.”
Meaford reached a milestone in 2017, with $300,000 raised since the first run in 1983. The number of participants grew from 30 in the first year to 262 in 2001, but numbers have declined over time. Last year, 100 participants ran, walked, biked, and skateboarded the 1-km, 5-km, or 10-km routes through Meaford, starting at the Rotary Harbour Pavilion.
“I don’t find younger generations as committed to the Terry Fox legacy,” Haley said. “Young people are not as knowledgable as those who lived through the 1980s when Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope and others carried on in his memory. Perhaps they do know who Terry Fox was but they don’t seem to be invested in his legend.”
Thirty-eight years ago, in 1980, Terry Fox set out from St. John’s, Nfld, to run across Canada to raise awareness and $24.1 million ($1 per Canadian citizen) to finance cancer research. Three years earlier, he had lost a leg to cancer. After 143 days of running, his Marathon of Hope ended in Thunder Bay, when he relapsed. Terry Fox died in June of 1981. “It’s very inspiring to watch the Terry Fox videos, to see the treatment he got in each town along the way,” Haley said. “Sometimes big support, sometimes heckling, but he didn’t let that get him down.”
A family tradition
The Terry Fox Run is a family tradition for Haley and her family, a tradition that started with Haley and her mother when Haley was a toddler in a stroller. Despite their busy days setting up for the event, mother and daughter manage to complete the 10-km run. Local schools organize a school run each year during the school week and have raised upwards of 30% of the annual revenue. Haley’s wish is that parents and children who donate through the school run still come out for the Sunday run and start their own family tradition of participating in the event each year on the third Sunday in September. “There is no minimal pledge amount, no entry fee, lots of activities and prizes, information to take home to read, and the Terry Fox video to watch,” said Haley.
Speaking of prizes…
Participants are invited to take a selfie in front of one of the 40 Terry Fox Run signs throughout the Town of Meaford, along the 7th Line, and in storefront windows, post it to Facebook and enter to win a bouquet of flowers compliments of Simply Unique.
Haley recognizes that there are many causes worthy of people’s donations. However, she believes in the innovative cancer research that is funded by monies raised during the 9,000 or more Terry Fox Runs across Canada and internationally. “For every dollar that the Terry Fox Foundation raises, 82 cents goes to cancer research,” she said.
The 2018 Terry Fox run is scheduled for Sunday, September 16. The Knights of Meaford hockey team will be on hand to push Meaford Long Term Care Home residents in their wheelchairs. Teams are encouraged to register and set up team challenges, and local firefighters will complete the run in full bunker gear.
To register pick up forms at Simply Unique, go online to the Terry Fox Foundation website at terryfox.org, or register on September 16 beginning at 9 a.m.
Photo: Terry Fox Run organizer Haley Fawcett invites participants to take a selfie with one of the 40 event signs, post it to Facebook, and enter to win a bouquet of flowers compliments of Simply Unique. Above: Haley and her dog Meeka who hails from Thunder Bay, where Terry Fox ended his Marathon of Hope in 1980.