Organizers seeking more volunteers to keep Terry Fox Run going

Jason Kerr/Daily Herald From left to right, Prince Albert Terry Fox Run organizing committee members Chris Ferchuk, Judy MacLeod Campbell, and Vern Hodgins pose for a photo in front of the Terry Fox Award plaque at City Hall. MacLeod Campbell is wearing one of the new Terry Fox t-shirts designed by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The annual Terry Fox run has been a fundraising staple in Prince Albert for more than 40 years, but that could change as the number of organizers dwindles.

The current organizing committee has five members on it. They plan to host a meeting on May 30 in hopes of attracting some new recruits.

“This City has had a real connection, for 43 years, with the Terry Fox Run,” said Vern Hodgins, one of the organizing committee members. “It would be a crying shame if Prince Albert didn’t have a Terry Fox run. We need more people coming out to volunteer to help run it.”

Hodgins has been involved with the Terry Fox Run in Prince Albert since its inception. He started as a runner at age 29, and has continued volunteering every year.

Hodgins said it’s difficult to attract volunteers for a fundraiser that takes place in September because the calendar is already packed full of events. He also said fundraising runs aren’t as rare as they once were.

When the Terry Fox Run started there were few events like it. Now, dozens of Saskatchewan organizations hold walks and runs every year, and they all need volunteers.

Participants take off from the start line for the annual Terry Fox Run and Walk outside the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

“It’s kind of the granddaddy of all walks and fundraisers,” Hodgins said. “There are so many of them, and it’s harder to get volunteers, not just in September, but every time of the year for everything that comes out. Prince Albert’s an amazing city though. Every time we put something on in this city they seem to get volunteers out.”

Organizing committee member Chris Ferchuk was 12 years old when Prince Albert held its first Terry Fox Run. He ran in that event, and was so inspired by Fox’s example that he became a regular participant and volunteer.

As an adult, Ferchuk views Fox as a great role model, and someone who’s legacy is worth celebrating. That not only includes keeping the Terry Fox Run going. It also means continueing to hand out the annual Terry Fox Reward.

“That would be pretty sad if there was not Terry Fox run in PA,” he said.

“Considering how many people come out, we are actually doing pretty good, so it would be sad if we didn’t have that to help raise money for cancer, and help memorialize Terry Fox. I think it’s very important that we keep the Terry Fox Award going, give the youth something to strive for and try to better their life and society.”

The annual Terry Fox Award is presented to a Prince Albert resident under the age of 21 who has impacted the city in a significant way despite challenges in their personal life. It was created shortly after Fox’s death in 1981. Past winners include Paralympian medalist Brittany Hudak.

The award is one of several links Prince Albert has with Terry Fox and the Fox family. Terry’s mother, Betty Fox, visited Prince Albert schools in 1989 and 1994 to speak about her son’s legacy. Terry’s brother Darryl Fox also visited in 2004 and 2017.

“Prince Albert has a long history with the Fox family,” Hodgins said.

The Terry Fox Run volunteer meeting is scheduled for May 30 on the second floor of the Alfred Jenkins Field House. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

The 2023 Terry Fox Run will be held on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m.

Interest in Terry Fox has increased recently thanks to a limited edition t-shirt collection designed by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds. Shirt sales have raised more than $1 million for cancer research during the pre-sale period.

“I’ve been inspired by the courage of Terry Fox since second grade,” Reynolds wrote in a Tweet. “He was the ultimate (Canadian) superhero.”