Montreal elementary school students strive to ‘be like Terry’ on Marathon of Hope anniversary

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WATCH: An elementary school in Pierrefonds is not letting COVID-19 break its stride. In an effort to fundraise for cancer research, students will walk, run or jog around their neighborhood every day until they achieve the 5,373 kilometres Terry Fox did on his 143 day journey. Global's Phil Carpenter was at the school as the students took their first steps – Apr 12, 2021

Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980, raising money for cancer research, and an elementary school which bears his name is marking the anniversary in a special way.

Students, teachers, even family members at Terry Fox Elementary School in Pierrefonds are trying to raise money for cancer research by running a different kind of campaign.

From now until September, students, running in class bubbles or with family members, will run weekly until Sept. 29.  By then they hope to collectively cover the same distance Fox covered for his Marathon of Hope when he attempted to run across Canada, but died before finishing.

“Five thousand, three hundred and seventy-three kilometres,” said teacher Natalie LaFrance, who, along with colleague Tracy Lyall, started the project.

“So we’re trying to raise $2 a kilometre which comes out to $10,746.

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According to LaFrance, they came up with the idea because of something they do daily.

“Well, Tracy and I run and have (been) avid runners for a while,” she told Global News, “and during COVID it’s been like our sanity. It’s been helping us.”

Read more: Montreal runner retraces Terry Fox’s last steps in the Marathon of Hope

She said since the kids always want to run with them, they decided to involve the whole school community in doing something special now, instead waiting until the fall for the annual Terry Fox Run.

For the campaign kick-off Monday, the school had a little help.

Eddy Nolan has been participating in Terry Fox runs since 1981.  The cancer survivor said he attended the event to support the kids, but to also remember his own brother.

“He just died in January of cancer,” he said, adding he wants to raise $7,000 for cancer research.

“Whatever I raise I’d like to add to the school’s total because it’s just the thing to do for me,” he said.

Both he and teachers think the kids can learn from Fox, whom the principal, Douglas Stewart, calls, “an ordinary kid who did something extraordinary.”

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“There’s a little something in every kid who comes to our school that is capable of doing something equally heroic,” Stewart said.

LaFrance said she’s confident they’ll reach their goals.

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