News

Terry Fox inspiration to walkers, runners

By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review

Brad May came back to the city where he played junior hockey to participate in the annual Niagara Falls Terry Fox Run on Sunday.

“This is very cool for me,” said the former National Hockey League player.

“I spent three years here as a junior hockey player with the Niagara Falls Thunder. I was drafted to the Buffalo Sabres just down the road, and coming full circle 18 years later, after starting in Buffalo and after Niagara Falls, of course, I got traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni, they know that I’m somewhat of a local boy, obviously for 10 or 12 years of my life for sure in this area, they asked me to do this.

“It’s terrific. Terry Fox, what a Canadian hero he is, and the true heroes, above and beyond Terry Fox, are all the supporters raising money for cancer research.”

May, who won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks, was joined by Toronto Maple Leafs mascot Carlton the Bear, and between 550 and 650 people at Gale Centre, which was also the site of the Leafs three-day training camp that concluded Sunday.

The five-kilometre route took participants up the arena’s Terry Fox Way entrance to Thorold Stone Road, onto Stanley Avenue, Morrison Street, and on the Paisley Janvary Pool trail, ending back at Gale Centre.

The run is a non-competitive event. Participants could walk, run, cycle or inline skate the route.

It was the second year in a row the event was held on the arena property.

In past years it was held at Oakes Park.

“Last year was our first year here, when Terry’s brother Fred came, a week before, and that’s when we did the unveiling of the Terry Fox Way,” said Josh Lennox, chairman of the Niagara Falls Terry Fox Run.

“It’s a nice route, it’s a safer route … It’s a good setup for us.”

Lennox said the goal of the local run is to raise $1 for every resident of Niagara Falls.

He said that includes the local schools that hold their own events, with proceeds benefiting the Terry Fox Foundation.

Also, proceeds from this weekend’s Toronto Maple Leafs barbecue at Gale Centre will be donated to the run.

Lennox said the schools play a big part, as “we’re teaching our children about Terry Fox.”

“When we talk about superheroes in the world, he was a real life superhero. He’s part of Canadiana.”

Sunday’s run was dedicated to Gabriella Roberto, daughter of Tom and Rachel Roberto, who died of cancer in 2002.

Local teacher Mary Manders has been a longtime participant in the run, and also took part Sunday.

“I just really like the foundation because of the high statistics for the sponsorship that actually goes to help out,” she said.

“And being involved in the schools … every year we’re trying to promote it with the students, and I see a lot of my students here at the event, so it’s nice.”

Monica Bartolini participated in the run for the first time on Sunday with her family.

She said her daughter, Grade 3 student Ava, started learning about Fox in school.

“She wanted to know the story.”

In 1980, Fox decided to run across Canada on a prosthetic leg to raise funds for cancer research.

After running almost a marathon a day for 143 days, he was forced to stop when the cancer returned. His Marathon of Hope came to an end near Thunder Bay. He died a year later at age 22.

Terry Fox Runs are held in more than 9,000 communities across Canada each year.

All funds raised benefit cancer research through the Terry Fox Foundation.

rspiteri@postmedia.com