Opinion Editorial

Do something positive

Zach Hofer, 13, and his dog Lokie brought their Zach Makes Tracks campaign to Kingston city hall on Saturday. The Barrie teen is raising money for and awareness of children's mental health. (Steph Crosier, The Whig-Standard)

Zach Hofer, 13, and his dog Lokie brought their Zach Makes Tracks campaign to Kingston city hall on Saturday. The Barrie teen is raising money for and awareness of children's mental health. (Steph Crosier, The Whig-Standard)

Two years ago, when he was 11 years old, Zachary Hofer wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The precocious, blond-haired Barrie boy informed the PM that he intended, in 2017, to walk across the province to raise money to benefit youth mental health issues.

He told Trudeau he hoped to raise $10,000. "I'm wondering if you can meet me in Ottawa when I finish my run," he asked in a heartfelt letter that mentioned that one of the people that inspired his initiative was Terry Fox. A few days ago, Hofer successfully completed his ambitious trek to the nation's capital where he was personally greeted by an impressed Trudeau at the emotional conclusion. Amazingly, the young 13-year-old's run raised more than $70,000.

Hofer and his family deserve a big pat on the back for their impressive odyssey. The campaign, in a way, serves to underscore just how amazing Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope was. Despite losing his leg to cancer, Fox ran a marathon every day in his bid to raise money for and awareness about cancer as he made his way across this vast country.

Images of a curly-haired Fox, in ragged shorts and a T-shirt, lumbering down lonely roads in his awe-inspiring mission remain as poignant today as they were during his run, which started in 1980. After 143 days and 5,373 kilometres, Fox was forced to end his cross-country trek as the cancer that took his leg returned with a vengeance. He died June 28, 1981.

His death was a heartbreaking blow for Canadians from coast to coast. But it also served as a rallying cry as people were so moved by Fox's courageous journey that they took up the cause. At the time, Fox's goal was to raise $24 million - $1 for every Canadian. It was an unbelievably ambitious goal.

The year Fox died, fundraising runs were held in his honour in an effort to raise money to help cure cancer; people wanted to see Terry's dream realized. Thirty-six years after his untimely death, annual runs continue to be held in his name in communities large and small across this land and in more than 60 countries around the world. Over the years, more than $650 million has been raised in his name - about $640,000 of that sum has been raised in Orillia.

This year's Terry Fox Run will be held Sunday at Couchiching Beach Park. You can walk, jog, strap on roller-blades, push a stroller or ride your bike. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with the run starting from the aptly-named Terry Fox Circle at 1 p.m. There is no entry fee, no minimum pledge required and you can choose from one, five, and 10-kilometre routes.

We encourage you to participate. Bring your friends. Open your wallets. Have the courage to do what Zach Hofer and Terry Fox did: to care enough to do something positive to help combat the scourge known as cancer. While the insidious disease seems to have impacted every single family, imagine what things might look like without the research and life-saving strides made thanks to money raised at Terry Fox Runs over the years. Let's do our part to continue the fight.

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