Terry Fox Run sees nearly double the turnout to raise funds for cancer research

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Trinity Gaudet and Chelsea Mitchell carried the flag to start the Terry Fox Run in Prince Albert on Sunday.

The Terry Fox Run in Prince Albert saw a dramatic increase in numbers for the 2023 edition, which began at the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse on Sunday afternoon.

The event saw 90 runners and raised $29,1010.50. Cancer survivor Chelsea Mitchell and her cousin Trinity Gaudet carried the Terry Fox Run flag to Ninth Avenue before letting walkers and runners pass.

Shelley Mitchell, Chelsea’s mother, is a fundraiser, supporter and board member for the Terry Fox Run. She said seeing the large turnout was amazing.

“We doubled the amount of people, so that’s huge,” Mitchell said.

Chelsea is a childhood cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in July 2013 when she was only 12 years old.

After her diagnosis, Chelsea joined Small But Mighty, a childhood cancer fundraiser.

“We didn’t realize how many people there are out there,” said Shelley, who works as a Grade 2 teacher at Ecole Arthur Pechey School. “We just didn’t realize, but I had a student that was diagnosed the year before Chelsea was diagnosed … so I started doing stuff then. There was another little boy in our school who was diagnosed two years, I think, before Chelsea, so it was there. It just wasn’t as big.”

Since recovering, Chelsea and her family have often taken part in the Prince Albert Relay for Life. Shelley said they have been blessed, so they try and be a blessing to others.

“We got to keep our daughter,” she explained. “A lot of people don’t, so now it’s our turn to give back.”

The Mitchell family were among the many runners and walkers who came out to raise money and celebrate the legacy of Terry Fox.

On April 12, 1980, the then 22-year-old Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean and began his trek across the country. He averaged 42 km a day through six provinces.

Fox was forced to stop running on Sept. 1 in Thunder Bay, Ont. when cancer spread to his lungs.

Shelley said it takes a lot of hours to get the Terry Fox Run up and running, but she’s happy with the result.

“I’m tired, but it’s worth it’s worth the hours and the sweat and tears. It’s worth it,” she said.

In addition to the annual relay, the festivities expanded to include a Car Show at Aurora Chiropractic on Saturday. Shelley said the car show could become an annual tradition to help raise awareness.

“We’re already talking about next year’s Car Show, so I think that it’s just the push and the drive to just get people involved,” she explained. “I think people have forgotten that Terry Fox is here because Relay for Life was the thing everybody did (and) Relay for Life is no longer in Prince Albert.”

She said that people can donate to various cancer fundraisers such as Relay For Life or the Canadian Cancer Society but the message and hope in the Terry Fox Foundation is important.

“What I love about Terry Fox is Terry Fox Foundation gives equally to all cancers,” Mitchell said.

“Terry Fox is also all volunteer-based, so nobody’s making money. It’s all going where it needs to go to research. That’s why my passion is there because Terry Fox is for everyone.”

Dennis Ogrodnick brought greetings on behalf of the city and told of his current fight with cancer.

Honourary Chair Chantale Fetch spoke before the walk, told her story, and pressed the light button on Ninth Avenue where the run continued.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Walkers in the Terry Fox Run make their way down 28th Street during the Terry Fox Run in Prince Albert on Sunday

Committee member Vern Hodgins has been part of the Terry Fox Run for every event and was happy with the turnout and the way the day went.

“We had a good group of volunteers at the table,” Hodgins said. “Wolunteers make everything go.

“It is nice to see young people, children and dogs and I love it,” he added.

“Our best turnout in years and years and gorgeous weather helps.”

Hodgins said that they are already looking ahead to the next Terry Fox Run. Ideally, he’d like to find more volunteers who can help keep the event going.

“I’m getting older every year,” he explained. “It would be nice to have some new volunteers. I don’t want to say the word younger, but new…. Anybody that wants to volunteer and help we would welcome it, we need it and contact me,” Hodgins said.

There were several members of Terry’s Team in red shirts including Hodgins, Fetch and Ogrodnick.

“It’s nice to see the sprinkling of red shirts throughout the 80 people that show those people are cancer survivors or are battling cancer right now. I love to see them out,” Hodgins said.

He explained that the best total was around $19,000 a few years ago.

“I think the online total is going to be good,” Hodgins said.

The Prince Albert run took place at Little Red River Park when it first began, before moving to City Hall, the Harry Jerome Track and now the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse.

According to the Terry Fox Foundation, more than $850 million has been raised for cancer research in Fox’s name to date.

Shelley Mitchell and her family were just happy to be involved in the event.

“I’m just grateful. I’m thankful that we’re here. I’m thankful that Chelsea gets to do this. It was her choice to give back. I am not pushing her into it, she wants to do this, and she wants to make a difference.”