SPRINGHILL, N.S. – Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope began April 12,1980 in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
Thirty-eight years later, the Marathon of Hope continues in Springhill with Bernice Fraser.
“When Terry came to Springhill, myself and my three kids went down to greet him on the town hall steps,” said Fraser. “He stole my heart that day when he stood there and told the story about his cancer. He was an amazing young man.”
Fraser worked for 30 years at Oxford Frozen Foods before retiring in 2007.
In 1992, she took part in her first Terry Fox Run after John Bragg, the owner of Oxford Frozen Foods, put up a notice saying he would match funds raised at the Terry Fox Run.
“In 1992 John’s brother passed away, and that year he started to match the money we raised, penny for penny, and he’s done it ever since.”
About eight people raised money that first year, but it wasn’t long before Fraser was the only one keeping at it.
“I don’t give up easy,” said Fraser.
Through pledges and bake sales, Fraser has raised more than $50,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation.
“With Oxford Frozen Foods matching, it came out to over $100,000 last year, but they credited it all to my name.”
Fraser will participate in the 38th annual Terry Fox Run on Sunday.
Each year, the 73-year old starts at the Springhill community centre, walks out to the Miners Museum, down Herrett Road, over to McFarlane Street, and back down to the arena, for a total walk of 6.1 kilometres.
Her daughter Sandra used to walk with her but, unfortunately, she passed away from cancer at the age of 48.
“It will be five years on Nov. 19 that she passed away,” said Fraser. “Before she died she said, ‘mom, don’t give up Terry,’ and I said, ‘that will never happen,’ so now I walk for her and Terry both.”
After completing her walk around Springhill, she also walks one lap around the track upstairs at the Springhill arena.
“My mother-in-law used to walk with me, so now I walk one lap around the track for my mother-in-law.”
She says the day Terry Fox visited Springhill is still very vivid in her mind.
“He was four years older than my oldest, so he was just another child to me,” said Fraser.
She said she feared he wouldn’t finish his run.
“Right from that day on he was determined he was going to do it and I said, ‘I hope the child does,’ but I didn’t feel he would,” said Fraser. “I did know a little bit about cancer back then and I knew you had to really look after yourself, and the way he was running every day I really thought he was pushing himself too hard.”
Fraser, unfortunately, was correct.
The cancer spread to Fox’s lungs, and on Sept. 1, 1980, just outside of Thunder Bay, Ont., he was forced to stop running. He passed away June 28, 1981.
Since his passing, the Terry Fox run has spread throughout the world, and more than $750 million has been raised in his name, including $100,000 from Bernice Fraser and Oxford Frozen Foods.