by Paula Moser
In May I wrote about six young men embarking upon a challenge most of us would consider folly: a run from Montreal to Vancouver in 28 days, 4,632km in the name of cancer research.
Their goal was to raise $50,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation. And they did it. Well, not the $50,000, yet, but the run! Akshay Grover, Keiston Herchel, Muhan Patel, Declan McCool, Marc-André and Mathieu Blouin ran together for 28 days and arrived together with smiles and tears. Michael Davies, had to drop out before the start due to an accident.
There were hardships along the way. Ontario was long. It rained, it was hot and humid, and gasoline was expensive. When they reached the Terry Fox monument in Thunder Bay, the spot where Terry Fox had to stop his Marathon of Hope due to the cancer in his lungs, it all came into perspective. Inspired by Terry’s legacy, they knew they had to finish this run!
In Manitoba, a province none of them had ever visited before, horseflies swarmed their faces as they ran. The more they ran, the more they sweat, the more the flies they attracted. The Rockies, spectacular from the window of a train, were a challenge that would bring any strong runner to his knees. Here is where their knees complained loudly. Knee braces went on and they kept running. As Marc-Andre said: «The seemingly impossible became possible.»
A small crowd gathered in the rain at Simon Fraser University to cheer the runners over the finish line. It was an emotional end to a fantastic journey. Keiston was handed crutches as his knee was in need of medical attention. The six men hugged and cried. Passersby handed them $10 or $20 for the fundraising effort.
With Vancouver in sight, thoughts of lodging in Canada’s most expensive city loomed over them. Here is where the whole purpose of their trip came in to focus, where a kind soul, a runner herself, offered accommodations to the team as her family had been touched by cancer: Her daughter’s 8-year-old friend is being treated for leukemia. This mother was happy to support the runners, to raise funds for cancer research to help stop the pain we all feel these days. Being touched by so many with cancer. As Akshay said right from the start: “This is about Canadians helping Canadians.»
Terry Fox said: “When I started this run, I said that if we all gave one dollar, we’d have $22 million for cancer research, and I don’t care man, there’s no reason that isn’t possible. No reason!” Another quote from that wise-beyond-his-years 23 year old: “It took cancer to realize that being self centered is not the way to live. The answer is to try and help others.”
The Montreal runners have learned this lesson early! They hope no one has to face cancer to learn this message. The Terry Fox Foundation funds research into cancer treatments that have improved the survival rates of all kinds of cancer. This research gives us hope.
Won’t you help the runners meet their goal? To donate: terryfox.ca/themontrealrunners, or send a cheque to: The Montreal Runners
The Terry Fox Foundation, # 207
10 Churchill Blvd,
Greenfield Park, QC J4V 2L7