Ready to run
Donna Lafrance and Cindy Saucier promote the upcoming Terry Fox Run. Van Dusen photo

RUSSELL – For 20 years-plus, Cindy Saucier has been coordinating Russell’s annual Terry Fox Run for cancer research; for the past decade, Donna Lafrance has been second-in-command, facilitating the Embrun departure of the run.

Neither woman intends to give up their roles any time soon; both want to continue commemorating the extraordinary effort made by Terry Fox who, in 1980, set out on a cross-Canada run with one leg removed because of cancer; he never made it all the way, but his feat inspired a lasting effort to battle cancer in his name.

“Just imagine what he did on only one good leg,” said Saucier while she and Lafrance staffed a booth at the Russell Fair promoting the latest edition of the run this Sunday 9 a.m., along the fitness trail between Russell and Embrun. “I still remember where I was and what I was doing when the news came out, Terry was too sick to continue.”

Over the many years the Terry Fox Run has been held in Russell Township, it has raised close to $310,000, with more than $11,600 collected last year alone. Participation ranges from 200 to 400 or so, with one group mustering on the Fitness Trail at Mother Teresa Catholic School and the other at the old train station in Embrun; each group runs, walks, rollerblades or bikes 10km toward the opposite village.

The event has a festive atmosphere, with live music at the Embrun end, apples and oranges for competitors donated by Foodland, a water stop at the dog park, and bathroom availability at the dental clinic on the roundabout; individuals can complete any length they want in whatever time is comfortable. Last-minute registrations are accepted with a donation requested; all participants receive a certificate.

“The Terry Fox Foundation wants to make it easy for everyone to participate,” said Saucier who has been recognized for her long involvement with plaques from the foundation. Another way money is raised is through the sale of Terry Fox t-shirts with a new design every year.

Depending on competing activities and weather, some years are more difficult than others to sign up participants, she noted. In addition, new charity runs and walks have been initiated in the Ottawa area, some held on the same day as the Fox event.

“I wish there was more consultation on planning these new fundraisers,” Saucier observed.