The Upper Canada College community has had a close relationship with the annual Terry Fox Run to raise money for cancer research for 35 years, and that tradition continued at two events last month.
UCC once again hosted the Forest Hill community run on Sept. 20 and 1,815 participants raised $169,000. Once all of the donations are collected by the end of March, it’s hoped that the total will reach $220,000.
Co-chair and Team Up For Terry leader Chris Henry says 145 volunteers helped out, with the majority of them being UCC boys, and that the Aramark food and UCC facilities teams also played a big role in making the event a success.
UCC is one of more than 200 Canadian sites that host these community runs, and it has a track record of being one of the most generous in the amount it generates. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $700 million for cancer research since the runs began as a tribute to Fox’s Marathon of Hope, a planned cross-Canada journey that ended on Sept. 1, 1980 after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres when Fox’s osteosarcoma (a cancerous tumor that forced the amputation of his right leg) returned and more cancer spread to his lungs.
Henry says there will be a “Terry Fox Friends and Family Free Skate” at UCC’s William P. Wilder ’40 Arena & Sports Complex in December, where Terry Fox merchandise will be sold to raise more funds.
The Terry Fox School Run followed at UCC on Sept. 25 and involved students from the Prep and Upper Schools who were asked to collect donations.
Boys gathered on the Prep field following an Association Day assembly in Laidlaw Hall to hear Old Boy Jay Gillespie ’74 talk about his days at UCC, his career after graduation and his recent battle with cancer.
Gillespie was a UCC student from Grades 1 to 13, a steward at Mowbray’s, a performer in the Little Theatre, and a football, hockey, tennis and squash player before being named the College’s top athlete in his graduating year.
“UCC was very good to me in many ways and set me up for life,” he wrote in an email.
Gillespie studied modern languages at the University of Toronto and coached squash in Germany and France. Upon returning to Canada, he won several provincial and national squash titles in singles and doubles and even won a few world doubles championships for his age category as he got older. He was inducted into the Ontario Squash Hall of Fame in April.
A man as active and athletic as Gillespie wasn’t expecting to be struck down by a serious disease, but he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2013 and went through 15 months of chemotherapy with newly introduced drugs before three weeks of radiation treatment. This stopped the tumor’s growth, but didn’t shrink it, so he’s now one of eight people in a clinical trial with a new and still unproven drug that’s supposed to block the enzyme produced by bad cells and fire up the immune system to start fighting those bad cells.
Most pancreatic cancer patients survive for less than a year, while Gillespie is still going after more than two. He’s living proof that cancer research is having positive results.
With that inspiration at their backs, the boys took off on their own mini Marathons of Hope.