Friday, September 25, 2009

Terry Fox Day

Today is the Terry Fox National School Run Day. I remember my very first Terry Fox Run. I was a kindergartener at Quigley Elementary School. Each child in our kindergarten class got paired up with a grade 5 student. We met our partners once before the Terry Fox Run to get to know them. I remember I told my partner, a grade 5 girl with long brown hair pulled into pigtails, that I played violin. The next time I saw her was on the morning of Terry Fox Day. All the kids at Quigley Elementary milled about the playground and soccer field waiting for instructions from our teachers. Finally my teacher, Mrs. Ackerman, led the kindergarten class over to the grade 5 class and we got reacquainted with our partners. Then our whole school set out down the city sidewalks, walking or running in pairings of two.

I didn't even understand what we were doing. I barely knew who Terry Fox was. I wondered why we had broken out of our structured kindergarten schedule to take a walk around several city blocks. There were children and teenagers flooding from the gates of the school across the road from Quigley. That was the school my older sister went to, the Adventist school that I would have gone to if they'd had a kindergaren class that year. I searched for Becky in the crowds of students, but never saw her. I wondered who her partner was. Maybe she was too old to need a partner.

By the time we rounded the last corner heading back to our school, my feet were sore. I was tired of walking and just wanted to be back in our familiar kindergarten class with the bookshelf full of puzzles and the playhouse set up like a hospital and the loft filled with comfy cushions and tons books for us to read. But I was also proud. Proud that I had made it the whole way. Proud that I, for the most part, had kept up with my partner. Proud that I had participated in Terry Fox Day.

On Sunday, this year's official Terry Fox Day, thousands of people of all ages, from all walks of life, from all parts of the country, will walk or run because of Terry. Today school children all across Canada took time out of their school day to participate in the Terry Fox Run, just like I did 19 years ago. Today I think of that courageous 21-year-old with only one leg who captivated an entire country. Today I imagine how he felt as he dipped his prothetic leg in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John's, Newfoundland and started his run across the country. Today I wonder if he ever realized the difference his Marathon of Hope made for cancer research. Today I'm proud to be Canadian.

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