Honourary Chair for Terry Fox Run once interviewed Fox

Photos courtesy Bruce Vance. Bruce Vance (left) and photographer Danny Bailey film Terry Fox speaking in London in 1980.

Prince Albert Terry Fox Run honourary chair Bruce Vance will always remember July 17, 1980.

It’s the day Terry Fox arrived in London, Ont. to speak to reporters during the Marathon of Hope. At that time, Vance was in his second year studying Radio and Television Arts at what was then known as Ryerson University, but spent the summer in his hometown of Tillsonburg, Ont., and he jumped at the opportunity to interview Terry Fox.

“(I) got a summer grant with three other buddies to do a television show twice weekly in my hometown cable station,” remembered Vance, who is currently battling cancer himself. “We would go around the community and film different events and basically do a news, sports, entertainment show twice a week.

“He came to London, Ontario on July 17, 1980, and London is about 40 minutes away from Tillsonburg. It was something that we wanted to cover for our local newscast.”

Vance described that day in London as incredible and the park where the Terry Fox event took place as a beautiful setting.

“Terry Fox came in and was followed by lots of media,” he remembered. “More media showed up and were set up on the stage. We were off to the right-hand side, I believe, with our TV cameras.

Terry Fox on stage in London, Ontario July 17, 1980 with TIN-Tillsonburg Information and News, which Bruce Vance worked for, visible. (Archives and Special Collections, Western University (LFP Collection)

“He gave a motivational speech to a huge crowd that was on hand there, and it was very motivational.”

As a member of the working media at the event, Vance took part in a scrum with national and local media. It was an exciting opportunity, but Vance said he was also a bit nervous.

“I was sort of in awe of the whole situation so I stood back and let the CBCs and CTVs of the world ask the questions,” he explained.

Vance described the entire moment as surreal.

“One of Canada’s greatest heroes in person and to have a chance to be up close and personal with him, it was just a memory I will never forget,”

Vance was just 19-years-old at the time—slightly younger than Terry Fox was. He said the whole thing was unique to be part of, given the excitement, the energy, and the pride those gathered had for Terry Fox.

With the passage of time the event has become more important.

“It is again quite the tie in because my Dad had just passed away with cancer in 1979 so it had more of an effect on me at the time,” Vance said. “It has even more of an effect now that I am currently battling cancer and going through my battles. It was something that was a life experience for me for sure.”

Vance said the nightly news always led their coverage with Terry Fox during the Marathon of Hope. That made it even more difficult when Fox died.

“When he passed away and stopped his run it was a very somber moment for our entire nation and something that we will never forget,” Vance said.

Vance also works as the Marketing and Sponsorship Coordinator with the City of Prince Albert.

The Terry Fox Run for cancer research takes place on Sunday, Sept. 18. Participants can walk, jog, run or wheel and can also choose the distance you want to go, 2, 5 or 10 km. A route will be marked out starting at the Alfred Jenkins Field House with a group start at 1:00 pm. Register between 12:15 and 1 pm.

“To see all of the millions and billions of dollars that have been raised for cancer research by Terry Fox and through events like the Terry Fox Run, it does a heart proud to see what Canada and Canadians have done for cancer research and hopefully we can find a cure one day,” Vance said.

Register today at www.terryfoxrun.ca and start collecting pledges/donations now. The goal is to raise $15,000. Cancer survivors or patients can join Terry’s Team at www.terryfoxrun.ca.

The annual Terry Fox Run Relay with registered teams will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m. at the Harry Jerome Track.