Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Terry Fox Run

The event in the title is a uniquely Canadian phenomenon - in its 25th year now, and honouring the failed attempt by a young Canadian to run across the whole country after a cancer-induced amputation of one of his legs, with the hope of raising money for cancer research, it fits many things in our character well. It honours someone who failed in his task, but in the process captured the national imagination. And perhaps as a result has raised more funds than he could ever have imagined. You can read much more about all this here.
The outcome has been remarkable. Across this country on this weekend every year great numbers of people join in fun runs dedicated to his effort, in the process contributing funds to his cause. Today I participated in my first Terry Fox Run, that held in North London, Ontario.
It has never been an event that really captured my imagination, but I must say the whole experience was charming. The community of participants, as well as of organizers, we largely young, and delightful to be among. It was curious that while we could all have simply donated money to the cause, we chose to complete the 5 kilometre route (there were no requirements on how you do this, other than that a car would not have fit on the course). (And this was not trivial for me to do!)
Where have I been the previous twenty-four years? Well, I fear I viewed non-participation as contrarian in some positive way. Perhaps just another misguided stupidity I held onto has been released. I think it does happen. And hope for a few more such changes.

(And by the way, yes part of my view has always been that events like this may just distort the allocation of medical research funds, simply because some young guy with such a determined character happened to be a cancer victim and was not primarily suffering from diabetes. Well, so be it.)


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