Working together to outrun cancer in Terry’s name

Organizers of Wilmot Terry Fox Run set $40, 000 as goal for 2020


  • Biography   Saturday, July 17, 2021   Nigel Gordijk



When my wife Cheryl and I became the organizers of the local Terry Fox Run in 2013, we had no idea how wholeheartedly it would be embraced by our community. It was known as the New Hamburg Run back then, and we raised $1,760 in our first year, which was an uninspiring $1,332 less than the year before.

There was a slight uptick to $2,600 in our second year, and we set a seemingly ambitious target of $3,500 for 2015, the 35th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope. That would surpass 2001’s previous record of $3,380.

The obvious way to increase fundraising was by engaging more people from across the township. With that in mind, we became the Wilmot Terry Fox Run. Residents from beyond New Hamburg immediately embraced the renamed event, with some telling us they participated because now they felt included. Our final total of $14,305 far exceeded our goal.

The name change was one thing, but we were still just a single event, held in New Hamburg. That is until a local gym offered to host a fundraiser for us. It was our first third-party event, and it brought in several hundred dollars.

Every year since, more fundraisers have been added that take place throughout the year. Some have been organized by us – such as this summer’s house concerts and A Night To Inspire – while many have been arranged by local businesses, churches, even our high school. They’ve hosted strawberry socials, pet nail trims, art auctions, BBQs and breakfasts.

This has several advantages. First, it provides an opportunity for people from right across Wilmot to have a more active role in Terry’s legacy. Second, by having multiple events spread over several months, we’re keeping Terry front of mind all year long. And third, of course, we raise a lot more money for cancer research.

In 1980, Terry wanted the Marathon of Hope to raise one dollar for each person in Canada at the time. He managed it, even after he was forced to stop running because his cancer had returned. Many Terry Fox Runs want to emulate that by raising a dollar for each resident in their respective communities, a total Wilmot surpassed in 2017 with a total of $26,300.

The amount of money raised has increased every year, just as the number of local people who share Terry’s dream has grown. In 2018, our community raised a staggering $33,660; at the time of writing, Wilmot’s 2019 total is an estimated $34,486. Since the first locally-held run in 1996, you’ve raised nearly $149,000, 82% of that in the past five years alone.

There have been 21 fundraisers so far this year, and we’re not done yet.

Local theatre group The Community Players of New Hamburg is staging "Calendar Girls" as its fall production in November. The plot involves a character dealing with cancer, so TCP's Leadership Team felt it would be fitting to donate all the proceeds from the show's 50/50 ticket sales to the Wilmot Terry Fox Run. TCP’s President Aaron Fewkes told us, "We love supporting local, and it was important to us to support your grass roots efforts" because the Wilmot Terry Fox Run is "a fellow community event".

We are beyond grateful to everyone who has been inspired by Terry’s vision and helped fund cancer research by volunteering, donating, or supporting the cause by raising money through their own hard work and imagination. Everything we’ve accomplished has been as a community.

Next year, we’ll be celebrating 40 years since Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. It’s the perfect reason to set a new goal: raise $40,000 in 2020.

We can’t get there without you. So, let’s take the next step, together.