British Columbia

37 years later, Terry Fox continues to inspire in Port Coquitlam

The iconic Canadian spent his formative years in Port Coquitlam where more than 1,000 people showed up on Sunday to participate in the annual run in his honour.

More than 1,000 people showed up for the iconic fundraising run in city where Fox went to high school

Ready, set, go! Over a thousand people turned out at the annual Terry Fox run in Port Coquitlam, where the Canadian icon went to high school. (CBC)

Thirty seven years after his death, Canadian icon Terry Fox continues to draw thousands to runs across the country.

But in Port Coquitlam, where Fox attended high school, the stories about the legend are more personal.

"I was about 18-years-old and this one-legged boy used to run down our street. I used to go to Hastings Junior Secondary and run the track and he was there running all the time,"  said Chris Sparrow, who participated in the run.

"It wasn't until about a year later that we all found out who he was."

Smiles and tears are common fixtures at the iconic runs. (CBC)

"I think of a young man who I went to school with, we were in the same class at Mary Hill Junior Secondary," said Mike Farnworth, MLA for Port Coquitlam.

Dave Teixeira is the Terry Fox hometown run coordinator.

"We all come here every year to remember Terry and all the great things that he's done. His Marathon of Hope is not over, even though he's ended his Marathon of Hope, we've all picked up the torch and are now continuing it."

Terry Fox's story is taught in schools across the country. (CBC)

Others at the run reflected on their own challenges with cancer.

"My sister-in-law's mum just found out that she has cancer and she's not coming home. She's staying in the hospital, so we're running for her," said Barb Sparrow, holding up a handmade sign.

Erin Danielle is a single mother who this time last year was diagnosed with stage three, triple negative breast cancer. After sixteen rounds of chemotherapy and two surgeries, she's cancer free. 

She lifted a baseball cap to show her short hair, that is now starting to grow back, and said that learning about Terry Fox helped her son cope with her disease.

"I said buddy, mama has cancer and he said 'like Terry Fox?' And I said yeah, like Terry Fox. And I'm so thankful for the Terry Fox programs in the schools because they emphasise positivity. My son looked at cancer as an opportunity to be courageous and valiant instead of scared," she said.

"[During the run], I'm going to think about how I'm so grateful to be cancer free and that I have two legs today and have the strength to go for a run today."

Erin Danielle, a cancer survivor, said she's thankful that Terry Fox programs in schools have emphasised positivity and strength. (CBC)

With files from Deborah Goble