Outer Cove students, U.S. company donate Terry Fox bench
St. Francis of Assisi students raise funds for bench at Mile Zero
Students and staff from St. Francis of Assisi school in Outer Cove unveiled a bench Monday morning next to the Terry Fox Memorial, paid for with spare recess money and help from American company Victor Stanley Benches.
"I think that Terry is such an inspiration to everybody and everybody can always be touched and moved by his story," said Grade 6 student Maria Baker.
"I think a few times I actually went digging in my own friend's desk looking for spare change," she said.
The idea to install a bench came about when assistant principal Edwina Connors was visiting the iconic location where Fox dipped his toe in St. John's harbour, before he headed west.
Despite there already being a memorial for Fox at Mile Zero, Connors noticed that there were not many places to sit.
It was then that she decided to get her school involved in the bench fundraiser.
"I went around to all the classes and asked them to start donating their small change, and almost immediately the children started digging in their desk looking for money," said Connors.
"I put a clear jar in the main office with Terry's picture on it and asked students to come down to the office."
"They were all coming down on a regular basis with their nickels, dimes and quarters and birthday money until approximately March."
The total amount of money raised was about $1,250, but Connors said the bench would have normally cost at least double that.
Sent bench for free
Connors got in contact with a man named Kevin Bettridge who works for Victor Stanley Benches in the U.S.
When she had told him what the students were doing, Bettridge contacted his firm's main office in Maryland who then slashed the bench's price even further.
"They sent our bench for free," said Connors,
'They said, `Deliver that bench where ever they want it, let those children have it, and we are not going to charge them anything," said Connors,
"It would have cost us over $500 [to ship it here] and this man [Bettridge] never charged us anything, it was just such an act of kindness," she said.
Connors said the company's generosity did not end there.
"[Bettridge] took no commission himself, he just asked us how much [the students] had raised, and he just gave us the bench for that," said Connors.
So Connors and some students from St. Francis of Assisi sent Bettridge a thank-you gift for helping them along their way.
"He didn't know anything about our school, we made a big poster and said, Thank you Mr. Bettridge and sent it off to him, so he was quite moved by that," said Connors.
Kindness stems from legacy Fox left behind
Grade 6 classmate Kathryn Cole said all the efforts and kindness involved stem from the legacy Fox has left behind.
"He is an influence for all people, you should know about him, not just 'Oh, I have heard about him,' you should know his story," said Cole.
The bench will be installed next a life size monument of Terry Fox that already exists at Mile Zero during a ceremony Monday.
"We just want people to remember what Terry did. A young man, 22 years of age, to run half way across the country to raise funds for cancer," said Connors.
"We want people to remember what he done, and to encourage people to sit on the bench and to reflect."