Terry Fox Run: Raising money for cancer research

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The thirteenth Muscat Terry Fox Run was held on the sports field of the American School in Ghala last Thursday. Its aim of raising awareness and money towards cancer research, in honour of Terry’s dream to end the pain of cancer, has had a huge impact on survival rates in the Sultanate over the years. This year the theme chosen was, “Keep Going”, reflecting the inspirational qualities of determination and perseverance from Terry Fox’s story.

Terry Fox was a young Canadian from near Vancouver. He enjoyed sports and athletics, but at the age of 18 in 1977 Terry was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma – bone cancer. He had to have his right leg amputated above the knee, but while he was in hospital he was shocked and moved by the plight of other cancer patients’ suffering. The night before his amputation he was inspired, reading about another amputee running with a prosthetic leg, and decided he would do the same. He trained for 18 months and then set off on 12th April 1980 to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He called it, “the Marathon of Hope”. At first there was little interest in his effort, but as time went on public enthusiasm grew – and so did the fund. Terry ran for 143 days averaging 42 km per day, he completed over 5,000 km but the cancer had spread to his lungs, and on September 1st he had to stop. Terry said, “even if I cannot complete the run, others must continue” and sadly he died, aged 22, on June 28th 1981. The Terry Fox Foundation was set up in Canada by a fellow cancer sufferer’s mother, Isadore Sharp, but now has spread throughout the world. To date they have raised over $750 million for cancer research, and the battle continues. People around the world are so inspired by Terry’s courage and determination that they continue to run each year in his name, to keep his dream alive of ending the pain of cancer.

“It’s got to keep going without me.” – Terry Fox

Fundraising in Muscat began two weeks before the event with a community-wide T-shirt sale. The beautiful design was on soft black cotton with colourful printing on the front – the best design yet! The High School Student Council organised their annual sponsored Head Shave on the day before the run. Over 1,500 RO was raised when twenty-seven people had their heads shaved – including one brave teaching couple who have been in Oman for ten years and wanted to celebrate their tenth Terry Fox Run in a special way! Middle School students submitted sticker designs which were then printed and sold to all for donations. Elementary pupils ran a Cookie Challenge against the Seniors in their cafeteria. Laura Macdonald, Terry Fox Planning Team coordinator explained, “In recent years we have developed connections between the oldest and youngest students through our Terry Fox ‘Courage Buddy’ programme. Younger children are matched up with students seven years older to learn Terry’s story together, and discuss the character traits that made Terry Fox such an inspiration.” Within these sessions fabric bandanas were decorated with words of encouragement, such as, ‘Don’t Stop! You can do it! Keep Going!’ and worn as head wraps, headbands, hair ties and around their necks or wrists.

This year’s run began with a kick-off Pep Rally in the blue gym, supported by the ‘Pep Band’ of Grade 7-12 musicians under band leader, Kristina LaMarca. As the students entered the hall in their Buddy pairs, the band played ‘Hang on Sloopy’, ‘Louie, Louie’, ‘Land of a Thousand Dances’ and John Williams’ iconic, ‘Darth Vader’s Theme’ from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. The head-shaven Kendra Kuti gave a stirring introduction to Cheerleaders, Mr. Kuti, Mr. Ingram and a life-size Eagle mascot in pantomime costume. Each section of the pep talk was punctuated with a cheer, “When the going gets tough, you’ve gotta keep going” from the assembled students. A mock TV Breakfast Show conversation between ‘actors’ Greg Brink and Grade 12 student, Laith Al-Abri was interspersed with Grade 5 Ambassador videos of staff to see what inspires them to keep on going. The results were quite an eye opener! To conclude, Laura MacDonald gave an inspirational word of praise as she thanked the Cancer Research fundraisers. A total of nine hundred T-shirts were sold and over five thousand Omani Riyals were raised this year. Terry Fox continues to inspire through his determination and perseverance towards his goal of running across the country to raise money for cancer research. And with that they were off; an entire community of over seven hundred young people and adults, running for all they were worth.

By Georgina Benison, Oman Observer