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Terry Fox Run on Sept. 19 again virtual

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Lindsay and Joey Kitchen will participate in the Terry Fox Run on Sept. 20 by taking a walk with their three-month-old daughter. Submitted
Lindsay and Joey Kitchen will participate in the Terry Fox Run on Sept. 20 by taking a walk with their three-month-old daughter. Submitted jpg, BR

Forty-one years after Terry Fox was forced to end his now iconic Marathon of Hope, Joey and Lindsay Kitchen help teach youngsters about his legacy.

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Both longtime volunteers with the Brantford Terry Fox Run, they are now teachers in Mississauga, Ont., So, September always means helping organize runs at their schools and sharing with students the meaning of the events.

“There are some phenomenal children’s picture books about Terry that introduce him to younger children,” said Lindsay, who teaches at an elementary school. “We tie it into lessons so the students aren’t walking aimlessly but they understand why they’re doing it.”

The Brantford Terry Fox Run has been a family tradition for the Kitchen family for decades. Joey and his sister, Velika Kitchen-Janzen, organizer of the event, have been lifelong run participants.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and gathering restrictions are in place, this year’s event, on Sept. 19, will be held virtually for the second year. In addition to Brantford, a virtual run also is being organized for Paris.

Despite this year’s obstacles, the Fox Foundation is promoting the run as a way to unite in spirit, if not in person. Canadians are being asked to raise funds online and to do something wherever they are – walk, run or ride around their neighbourhood or backyard and then share their experiences on social media.

COVID-19 has impacted charities across the country as they try to pursue their missions amidst dual health and economic crises. For most charities, the need is up and revenue is falling short.

“We’ve set an ambitious goal of $20,000 this year,” said Kitchen-Janzen. “Even if we don’t reach the goal, every dollar goes to cancer research and it’s still so meaningful.”

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Brantford runs, along with events organized at local schools, have raised more than $600,000 for the cause over the past 40 years.

“Few communities in Canada have gone beyond 40 years,” said Kitchen-Janzen. “We are one of the originals.”

Fox was just 21, having had his right leg amputated six inches above the knee due to bone cancer, when he began what he called his Marathon of Hope in St. John’s, N.L., on April 12, 1980.

He planned an east-to-west cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Fox’s goal was to raise $22 million, a dollar from every person living in Canada. He ran close to 42 kilometres a day for 143 days before lung cancer forced him to stop. He died on June 28, 1981. He was 22.

“He did the impossible and he was an ordinary person,” said Kitchen-Janzen. “The run is one way to honour a hero. It’s a wonderful thing to do.”

This year’s Terry Fox Run will be a little different for Joey and Lindsay Kitchen. Instead of volunteering to organize the Brantford event, they will be taking a walk in their neighbourhood with their three-month-old daughter.

Joey also will help organize a run at the secondary school where he teaches.

“With today’s technology, students are very aware of Terry Fox and his story, even students coming from other countries,” he said. “They’re always pumped to do the runs.”

The annual Fox run has grown to involve millions of participants in more than 60 countries and is now the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research. More than $850 million has been raised in his name.

You can find more information about participating and registering for the runs in Brantford and Paris at terryfox.org/terry-fox-run/.

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