Brenda Martel didn't even know who Terry Fox was 33 years ago.
Twenty-six at the time, Martel was battling a type of bone cancer called Ewing's sarcoma, and was hospital-bound as the Marathon of Hope kicked off.
"I didn't even realize that he had started. But I certainly followed it closely after that, because it was totally inspiring," she said. "To see someone else in the same sort of situation who had done so much was really inspiring."
That inspiration prompted Martel to pay it forward for close to two decades.
Though she retired two years ago, Martel spent the better part of 15 years helping to mobilize fundraising efforts out of Moody Middle School. Her classes, and the surrounding school community, raised more than $250,000 over a 14-year span for the Terry Fox Foundation.
"We were one of the top schools in the province," she said. "I was honoured to work with the staff, students and parents in that community to make it such a tradition. It wasn't just all me."
During those fundraising drives, Martel's classes would routinely be visited by members of the Fox family and others close to the historic run. The lessons they imparted on her students were similar to the values that Terry embodied 20 years earlier.
"The message that they all said to the students was that Terry was just an everyday individual," she recalled. "He had remarkable dreams and aspirations, and his attitude conveyed that anybody who has the will can do whatever they set their mind to. I was
really proud of the kids in how they received the information. They were so enthusiastic."
And as the Terry Fox Run celebrates a 33-year anniversary, so does Martel - she's been cancer free for the same amount of time.
Though she doesn't head up any school fundraising drives anymore, she's still connected to the run. The 60-year-old is on the organizing committee for the Coquitlam run, and plans to take part in this Sunday's trek around Blue Mountain Park.
"We're really trying to promote the Coquitlam run because it's still in its fledgling stages," she said. "We're really trying to encourage people from Coquitlam to get involved and take part and increase participation."
The Coquitlam run gets underway with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m., while the run kicks off at 10:15 a.m. The two-km run travels around Ridgeway and King Albert avenues, while the sixand 10-km runs follow a rectangular route encompassing Blue Mountain and Gatensbury streets, as well Como Lake and Ridgeway avenues.
There will also be runs Sunday in Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and Anmore.
For more information on all four events, log on to www.terryfox.org.
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