If there is one piece of advice Richmond Terry Fox Run head organizer Susan Bernardino could give, it would be to get involved regardless of whether cancer has affected you to date.
"I would say be part of the Terry Fox mission. The hope is that one day there will be a cure for cancer," said Bernardino.
The annual run and its eponymous hero are now ingrained in Canadian culture. Since 1981 - the year of Fox's Marathon of Hope - the run has raised more than $500 million for cancer research in Canada, not to mention the raised awareness of the country's most lethal disease, which will develop in nearly half of Canadians.
Richmond's run takes place Sep.15 at Garry Point Park. It is split into three segments with participants able to choose a 10 km or 5 km run or a1 km walk. The runs will take place on the west dyke while the walk will consist of a loop around the park.
Last year, Richmond's run raised $29,000 in donations and - as it always is - was put on by volunteers throughout the community.
It didn't take cancer to affect Richmond realtor and run volunteer organizer Libby Williams for her to participate in Terry Fox runs since age 11.
"It was a huge inspiration for me and I just wanted to be part of that," said Williams, who took part in one of the first annual runs at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park.
However, in 2008, Williams was diagnosed with breast cancer, a disease that strikes at one in nine Canadian women.
Quick, but exhaustive, treatment led to a recovery for the mother of two teenagers, but the disease continued to mar her family and friends; her brother passed away from cancer last year and, today, her good friend is battling the disease. This year, she is volunteering again.
"Previously it was being part of something, part of Terry Fox's dream. Now I feel I'm giving back and I'm so grateful for Terry Fox and what he did for us," said Williams.
She added that the Terry Fox run gives cancer fighters a sense of meaning and belonging in what can otherwise be a lonely and scary part of one's life.
"Being a mother you're used to being in command and when your family doesn't know what to do, you need help. When you're treading in that water, it's kind of frightening when you're on your own. I'd like to see more support for people to navigate the system," she said. Volunteers like Williams are important but Bernardino says it's also participation and donations that are ultimately the measuring stick of a successful run.
"It's a fun run, it's not a race. This is for the whole family and if you give a dollar you'll be part of the Marathon of Hope," said Bernardino.
She said the attendance of notable politicians like MP Alice Wong and Mayor Malcolm Brodie will help with the event's publicity. Brodie will also declare Sep.15 Terry Fox Day for the City of Richmond.
Last year, Bernardino said about 1,000 people showed up at Garry Point. This year, she's hoping a silent auction will push the donations past $30,000.
According to the Terry Fox Foundation website, the run starts at 10:30 a.m. with registration open at 7:30 a.m. It notes dogs on a leash are welcome and that the west dyke is not accessible to most wheelchairs due to the gravel surface.
Visit www.terryfox.org for more information.
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