Most schools commemorate Terry Fox by running on one day, but at Riverside Public School in Elmira students remember his Marathon of Hope by running for weeks on end.
This year they ran for seven weeks to be exact, and they ran not only for Terry Fox, but as part of the 25th anniversary of Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion tour.
Hansen kicked off his lastest cross-Canada tour at the end of this summer, and will be appearing in communities across Canada, including Elmira on Dec. 6.
“We’ve been doing the Terry Fox Run now for a number of years, and we look for a new twist every year,” said Connie Lepp, a special education teacher at Riverside.
This year Lepp proposed the idea of having the students run a cumulative distance of 12,000 km – the same as Hansen’s travel across Canada – as a way of recognizing not only the sacrifice made by Terry Fox but the ongoing work on Hansen and his foundation to help improve the lives of those living with spinal cord injuries.
While the task was daunting, Lepp was optimistic the students could do it. Last year they ran nearly 9,000 km in six weeks, and this year organizers added one extra week to that goal.
“I really wasn’t sure if we could make it, but it seems to be that we surpass our previous record every year in some way.”
They also held their annual toonies for Terry run in September and raised more than $567 for cancer research.
The school tracked their process by setting up a 400-metre lap in the schoolyard and encouraged the children to run during their nutrition breaks or on their own free time, and to record the distances using popsicle sticks.
“It’s really a neat thing to see this grow. This year we had 39 kids who ran two marathons or more. We had 20 kids who ran 100 km or more. We had a Grade 2 that ran 154 km,” said Lepp.
In total, the students ran 12,761 km to surpass their goal.
“I didn’t know if we were kind of exceeding what we were capable of, but they really rose to the challenge.”