Thirty years ago, Terry Fox had a dream of running across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He was unable to achieve that dream, which he called the Marathon of Hope, but every year millions across Canada run to keep that dream alive.
Four years ago, students and teachers at Riverside Public School in Elmira began their annual Terry Fox Marathon, which went beyond the one-day run that most people are familiar with and turned it into a six-week undertaking.
This year, 284 students recorded the distances that they ran – either on their own or through school events – and the school tallied it all up in an effort to cover the distance from St. Johns, NF to Victoria, BC – more than 7,000 kilometres – which was Terry’s original dream.
“For the past two years we have made it to Hope, BC but we haven’t quite been able to make it all the way to the coast,” explains Connie Lepp, a special education teacher at the school and one of the organizers of the run.
As a result, the school set a new goal this year and named their marathon, “To Hope and Beyond.” Lepp said their secondary goal this year was to still reach Victoria, but their primary goal was to once again reach the city of Hope.
“We got goosebumps when we ended up in Hope for the past two years, because we know it was Terry’s Marathon of Hope.”
This year’s run included two students who ran a total of two marathons (84 km), seven students who ran 100 km, and six students who ran a total of three marathons (126 km) – the first time any student has run more than 100 km.
The marathon ran from Sept. 17 to Oct. 29, and on Monday morning the school had an assembly to unveil how far the students ran, and how much money they had raised for cancer research.
“Well, we made it to Victoria!” Lepp told the excited group of children, “Plus an extra 1,039 kilometers, so we ended up out in the Pacific Ocean somewhere. Maybe next year we will see if we can run a little further, maybe up the coast to the Arctic Ocean.”
Another teacher and marathon organizer, Jennifer Densmore, revealed that they raised a total of $525.23 for cancer research.
Lepp also reminded the students of the importance of the Terry Fox run for raising cancer awareness, and for their personal development as well.
“This running makes our bodies healthy, our hearts strong, and our minds clear,” explained Lepp. “We also talked about honesty and integrity. Not only being honest to yourself, but being honest to the run and about how far you ran and recorded.”