Normally, on the morning of the annual Terry Fox run, Douglas Park in Langley City would be bustling with activity as participants sign in and warmed up prior to the 10 a.m. start.
This year, restrictions of large gatherings during the pandemic forced a transformation of the fundraiser into a virtual event.
But for one determined Langley City resident, and her dog, it meant there would almost certainly be plenty of room to safely conduct a one-person version of the event.
Which was why Lois Macleay and Georgie arrived in the park in time just before 10 a.m.
“I thought there would be more people,” Lois said, scanning the park, but it appeared that she was the only one to have the idea of starting at the same time and location as the regular event.
She explained that her family has been fund-raising since the very first run, when her mother, “Mickey” Sand took part.
“She just fell in love with that young freckle-faced, curly haired boy,” Lois laughed.
And so did she.
Lois helped with fund-raising for the Terry Fox Foundation but didn’t actually start walking until 2000, after her mother passed away.
A long-time volunteer with Langley Hospice, Lois estimated that between her mother and herself, they’ve raised more than $80,000 for cancer research over the years.
Her sponsors are from all over, with pledges coming from as far away as San Francisco, Prince George and Alberta.
In all her years of taking part, a high point was the opportunity to meet Terry;s mother and father at a special ceremony when a coin commemorating his run was issued.
“It was just fun to meet them and see them happy,” she said.
Sunday’s event marked the 40th anniversary of Terry’s Marathon of Hope.
The decision to hold the fundraiser online was made back in May, with all runs nation-wide taking place on Sept. 20.
All operated in a “one day, your way” fashion with no set program, with people walking or running their own routes at any time.
Fox, who lost a leg to cancer, began what became known as the Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980 when he dipped his prosthetic leg in the Atlantic Ocean near St. John’s, N.L. on April 12, 1980, with the aim of running across Canada and finishing at the Pacific Ocean in Victoria, B.C.
His journey ended at Thunder Bay, Ont., when it was discovered cancer had spread to other parts of his body.
Fox passed away on June 28, 1981 at the age of 22.
The first Terry Fox run was held that September.