Canadian hero Terry Fox still inspires years later

Participants take off from the start line for the annual Terry Fox Run and Walk outside the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse on Sunday, Sept. 15. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Brenda Krueger was always impressed with Terry Fox.

She loved that an ordinary hard-working person could accomplish such an extraordinary goal. She became even more impressed roughly 13 years ago when, like Fox, she was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors gave her a 63 per cent chance of living for 10 years, but to her eternal joy, she’s still here.

“If it gets tough, keep going,” she says when asked about Fox’s legacy. “The main thing is, always, always do your best. Whether it’s in fundraising for cancer or sports or your schoolwork, everybody do your best. Even for the adults who are here today, that’s a valuable lesson for them too: let him inspire you. He’s inspired me a lot.”

Like Fox, Krueger had cancer in one of her legs, although in her case is was the left not the right. The operation to remove her tumor was successful, and since then she’s run marathons and climbed mountains, including Mt. Terry Fox in B.C. It’s not always easy, but when things get tough, she looks to Fox for inspiration.

“When I’m getting near the end of a marathon my leg is quite bad,” she explained. “I look at a Terry Fox tattoo, think about Terry, I picture him and that determination and I make it to the finish line.”

For Krueger, Terry Fox is more than just an inspiration. She calls him Canada’s greatest hero for the attention he’s brought to cancer, and the millions of dollars in donations he inspired.

These days, she spends time travelling to classrooms across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, including Prince Albert, volunteering to speak about the annual event on behalf of the Terry Fox Foundation. She tells Fox’s story in every school and leaves a bucket for students to fill with donations.

On Sunday, she’s at the Alfred Jenkins Field House, making that same enthusiastic speech to those gathered for the annual Terry Fox Run.

“Everyone has been touched by this terrible disease,” she says. “Yes, tremendous progress has been made, but every year we have to remind people that we need more awareness and fundraising. Terry knew that research was the key in the battle against cancer, and the funds that are raised today, that’s what they’re needed for.”

Terry Fox Foundation volunteer Brenda Kreuger speaks prior to Monday’s annual Terry Fox Run. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Krueger’s efforts, and those of local volunteers and participants, are successful. On Sunday, the annual event raises more than $11,500 in donations for cancer research.

For organizers, the event is a great way to bring older and younger generations together to keep an important tradition alive.

“It’s really inspiring for me because I see the younger generation here,” P.A. Terry Fox Run lead organizer Danielle Poisson says. “That’s how that legacy continues.”

At 29-years-old, Poisson is too young to remember Fox’s run from the east coast to Thunder Bay. Still, she’s grown up hearing stories about his drive and determination, and like Krueger, she’s impressed.

“It’s a motivator,” she says. “It’s an inspiring story…. The idea is anybody can make a difference. Anybody who has drive, and has resilience can make a difference.”