VIDEO: Langley high school’s Terry Fox fundraiser gets down and dirty

Walnut Grove Secondary students and staff fight cancer by hosting an annual obstacle course

For Walnut Grove Secondary students T.K. Leroux, Caitlyn Martell, Owen Coleman and Brandon Ford, getting wet and muddy to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation is personal. That’s why they eagerly signed up to take part in Tuff Wally, the school’s annual obstacle course fundraiser on Oct. 11.

All have been impacted by cancer, affecting, and sometimes causing the deaths, of loved ones for each of the Grade 12 students.

Ford was a first timer at Tuff Wally which raises money for the Terry Fox Foundation. It’s the school’s Terry Fox un-Run, a different way to reach the same destination while offering challenging contests ranging from climbing a rope wall to dodging water balloons and paint powder.

Despite competing with three veterans, he had no idea what he was in for but loved every minute of it.

“I had a lot of fun just running around,” he said.

The water slide down a hill in the schoolyard was a highlight for many, despite the autumn chill.

“I have history of cancer in my family. I lost a close family member. That’s why I’ve been a big part of it over the years,” Coleman said.

Leroux has many members of her family who have had breast cancer on both sides of the family so she must be tested throughout her life because of the genetic link to the disease.

“So this is a really important fundraiser,” she said.

Coleman can point to many members on both sides of the family who have had the disease and attributes their survival to efforts like Tuff Wally, raising funds that allow the research to detect the disease earlier.

Martell noted that both her grandmothers didn’t survive their cancers.

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The school is serious about its fun because it translates into funds that can help find a cure.

“We raised $27,000 dollars as a school last year for the Terry Fox Foundation mostly through hosting this epic Tuff Wally,” vice principal Logan Kitteringham explained.

Last year family members of Terry Fox were able to participate in Tuff Wally.

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The school has gotten the community involved, welcoming RCMP teams to compete as well as including younger feeder school students who will eventually become WGSS Gators.

“The event continues to grow in school with Grade 6s and 7s joining us for the event from local feeder schools, part of a middle school style transition plan,” he said.

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The event is one of the few times when all of the school’s 2,000 students can gather for the same event.

And the event overseen by key organizer Martha McKay enjoys broad-based support in the school community because the disease affects so many.

Kitteringham noted that the school’s youth worker, Rosemary Davis, is undergoing another round of cancer treatment but still sent the students encouragement for this year’s competition.

“It was our most successful day yet in the five-year history of Tuff Wally,” Kitteringham said. “We have reached a new school record with over $31,000 dollars raised and still counting.”

The school used to do traditional Terry Fox Runs but they didn’t raise much money nor much excitement.

“After connecting Terry Fox and the Tuff Wally we have seen us raising over $58,000 in just two years,” he explained.

“I think what really jumped out this year was how much students have bought in and much they few Tuff Wally as an extension of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. We also were so impressed by the spirit and personality demonstrated with team costumes and outfits. Amazing and so much fun.”

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Grade 12 students Owen Coleman, T.K. Leroux, Brandon Ford, and Caitlyn Martell competed as a team in Tuff Wally 2019. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

T.L. Leroux didn’t mind getting wet and dirty when competing in Tuff Wally because the event raises funds for the Terry Fox Foundation. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

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