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Winnipeg Terry Fox Run going ahead virtually in 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic

Terry Fox on the Trans-Canada Highway near North Bay, Ont., in July 1980. This year's Terry Fox Run will be held virtually in Winnipeg and across the country due to COVID-19.
Terry Fox on the Trans-Canada Highway near North Bay, Ont., in July 1980. This year's Terry Fox Run will be held virtually in Winnipeg and across the country due to COVID-19. CP Photo by BORIS SPREMO

The novel coronavirus isn’t going to stop this year’s Terry Fox Run in Winnipeg.

The annual fundraiser — which, this year, marks the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope — is going virtual this September, with those taking part gathering online instead of the streets to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation.

“Traditionally we gather for a walk, run or bike, but we are asking instead everyone participate individually,” explains local organizer, Kim Walker of the Sept. 20 event.

“Have a dance in your home or a hula hoop spin-off in your backyard, just go for it.”

READ MORE: Terry Fox’s brother hopes 40th Marathon of Hope can inspire Canadians during coronavirus

Registration for this year’s virtual national fundraiser — called One Day. Your Way. — kicks off Wednesday, and like previous years, those who register collect pledges with all money raised going to the Terry Fox Foundation.

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But unlike past years, participants will choose what they want to do to raise money — pretty well anything and everything goes, says Walker — and everyone taking part across the country will meet online to share the experience Sept. 20.

Fox, a cancer patient and amputee, became a national icon with his 1980 attempt to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.

The 22-year-old made it more than 5,300 kilometres and six provinces, from St. John’s, N.L., to Thunder Bay, Ont., before cancer spread to his lungs and forced him to cut the run short. Ten months later, the disease took his life.

Since then, his legacy has grown to include Terry Fox Runs around the world, raising millions of dollars to fight cancer.

Walker said organizers didn’t want to let the pandemic put an end to Fox’s dream this year.

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“Terry was the first one to do a fundraiser like this,” said Walker. “He was an outside-the-box thinker and certainly this is something that’s in the spirit of his hard work and his enterprise.

“We can’t do it the same as the way we did last year, but that’s OK.”

Since Fox’s death, more than $750 million has been raised for cancer research through the annual Terry Fox Run, according to the research institute that bears his name.

READ MORE: Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope celebrates 40th anniversary on Sunday

As of this year, Walker says, the Winnipeg run has brought in $1 million for the cause.

Participants can register as individuals, families, or virtual teams by going to terryfox.org.

More information on the Winnipeg event can be found on their Facebook page.

— With files from Jessica Patton

Terry Fox inducted to the Manitoba Runners Association Hall of Fame
Terry Fox inducted to the Manitoba Runners Association Hall of Fame