SHS recognized for keeping runners dream alive

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST – Terry Fox’s dream is still running strong at Springhill High School.

“We’re 33 years into it, so we’re at the point in time where many people don’t know about Terry, so it’s really important for students to carry on Terry’s dream,” said Barbara Fickens, provincial director for the Terry Fox Foundation of Nova Scotia. ”When I see high school students involved it’s really terrific to see,”

Fickens and Jean Demsley, school co-ordinator for the Terry Fox Foundation of Nova Scotia, were at SHS Wednesday morning to present Terry Fox banners and to thank students for supporting the Terry Fox Foundation for the last 15-years.

“We are here to acknowledge that you have participated in the Terry Fox Run and Walk for the last 15 years,” said Demsley to students gathered in the SHS auditorium. “These banners acknowledge that participation, and we say thank you so much for raising money for cancer research.”

This year’s SHS Terry Fox student committee raised $189 for the Terry Fox Foundation.

“We set up a table every day and sold tickets for prizes” said Grade 10 student Lauren McMillan.

Prizes included Terry Fox t-shirts, a free meal in the cafeteria and free skate sharpening’s.

Three of the committee members have family members who presently have or have had cancer, and all of the committee members have grown up participating in the Terry Fox walk.

Grade 10 students Emma Lewis and Maria McCormick said they joined the committee because it was a different way to get involved and raise money.

Demsley is thankful for the committee’s support and thankful to schools throughout Nova Scotia.

“Schools in Nova Scotia have been awesome,” she said. “They should all be really proud. Sixty per cent of the revenue for the Terry Fox Foundation of Nova Scotia comes from schools.”

Demsley talked to the gathered student body about the work of the Terry Fox Foundation.

“The Terry Fox Foundation is all about cancer research,” said Demsley. “There are other foundations, like the Canadian Cancer Society that do other things as well, but Terry’s focus and dream was to run across Canada for cancer research.”

She then spoke about his run.

“He started in Newfoundland where nobody knew him,” said Demsley. “He ran in the spring. It was wet and cold, and people were passing him and splashing him and saying, ‘what is that guy doing out here.’”

Things got better once he reached western Nova Scotia.

“He went through Newfoundland and through Cape Breton, but in the Amherst area he got a little push and got some momentum because it was the first place that acknowledged him,” said Demsley. “It was the first community to put him on the radio and give him publicity. People welcomed him into the community and stopped treating him like an outsider.”

Fox’s goal was to raise 22 million, which was the population of Canada at the time, and he reached his goal.

After his death, his family kept the foundation going and it has now raised over $600 million for cancer research.

Demsley then about how money raised is used to research all types of cancer, not just the cancer Fox suffered from.

“When Terry was alive and not much older than you,” said Demsley. “He was in his first year of university and he had to have his leg amputated because that was the only treatment.

“Nowadays, thanks to cancer research, 90 per cent of people with his type of cancer are alive and walking around with their leg, so treatment has come that far in the last 33 years.

 Demsley said that about $5.8 million raise this year is being used at Dalhousie University.

“Dr. Patrick Lee is working on a virus that kills the dead cancer cells but does not destroy the healthy cells. It’s still in the lab process but it might be available in five more years for people.”

After she spoke to the students, SHS teacher Brad Moore talked to the students as well.

 “These girls helped organize it this year and some of you have helped other years, and most of the people here have done the walk,” said Moore. “It’s your donation and your work that helps keep the program going and helps fund cancer research.”

Fickens also thanked the students.

“I want to thank you and thank your committee,” she said. “You’ve kept it going for 15 years and we’re hoping for 15 more, so thank you so much.”








Organizations: Terry Fox Foundation of Nova Scotia, Springhill High School, Canadian Cancer Society Dalhousie University

Geographic location: AMHERST, Nova Scotia, Canada Newfoundland Cape Breton

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