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Canadian icon's legacy still felt 43 years later at annual Terry Fox Run

Thousands across Canada hit the pavement today to pay tribute to Terry Fox, while raising money for vital cancer research.

Crowds came out across B.C. to participate in the 43rd annual run, with a large turnout in Port Coquitlam, the city where the Canadian icon was raised. Participants ran for their loved ones, while some did it to honour their own cancer journeys.

“My story is very similar to Terry’s,” said Anna Solnickova, who was only 17 years old, a year younger than Fox was, when she was diagnosed with the same kind of bone cancer. A few years later, at 20 years old, it spread to her lungs – again, just like Fox.

“That’s when I really became very scared because I knew that’s what ultimately claimed Terry’s life, and that’s really what fueled me to get involved with the Terry Fox Foundation,” she said. “I didn’t know if I had weeks, or months, or years to live.”

In 1980, Fox began the Marathon of Hope with the goal of running across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Bill Vigars had just met Fox while working for the Canadian Cancer Society. He was sent to Eastern Canada to accompany the 18-year-old on his journey.

“It changed the rest of my life: The way I thought of life, my priorities in life, and it was the greatest adventure that summer,” he said. “I knew that the kid was going to do it. He was going to go all the way and he was the real deal.”

For many at the run, Fox’s legacy is a source of hope for those who see themselves in his story.

“Terry is so many things to so many different people,” said Solnickova. “Certainly he’s a national hero, but for a lot of us he’s our savior -- for me he is anyways. If it wasn’t for him, I really believe I wouldn’t be alive today.”

The Terry Fox Foundation says to date, more than $850 million dollars has been raised for cancer research. That love for Fox is why Vigars, who marked the day at Mile Zero in Victoria, said decades later, Fox is still able to bring communities together.

“In my mind, what you’re looking at is Terry still running,” he said.

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