Living in Ireland for the last few years, Halifax native Stew Paterson felt something was missing every September.
The Terry Fox Run was part of his upbringing and his Canadian roots, but Fox’s legacy is not well known in Ireland — so he took it upon himself to change that.
On Sept. 17, Paterson partnered with the Terry Fox Foundation to organize the first Terry Fox Run in Ireland in over a decade.
He reached out to Fox’s brother, Darrell Fox, who flew to Ireland for his first Terry Fox Run outside of Canada.
Paterson he hopes more Canadians living around the world can spread the word about Fox’s inspiring story.
When meeting a Canadian, he wants people to say, “Oh, I bet you love ice hockey and love Tim Hortons and love maple syrup and love Terry Fox, right?”
“I think his story should be synonymous with being Canadian because it’s such a special one,” said Paterson.
Fox, of Port Coquitlam, B.C., was 18 when he embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money for cancer research in April 1980. The activist, who had a leg amputated after a diagnosis of osteogenic sarcoma, was forced to stop his Marathon of Hope in September 1980 after cancer returned to his lungs. He died on June 28, 1981.
On Saturday, about 150 people walked, ran or cycled around Herbert Park in Dublin in Fox’s memory.
Paterson said the group raised €20,000, equivalent to $27,000 Cdn, which will go to the Irish Cancer Society.
Before he moved to Dublin a few years ago, Paterson lived in New York for eight years and helped organize an annual Terry Fox Run in Central Park.
He said Terry Fox’s story resonates with many because most people know someone who has been touched by cancer, whether in Canada, Dublin, or New York.
Paterson’s father was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago.
“I’ll never forget the moment he first told me,” said Paterson.
Darrell Fox, who trailed behind Terry in a van during the Marathon of Hope, teared up Saturday in Dublin as he read an excerpt from Terry’s journal and shared the importance of the cause.
“Basically what he said was half of me is Darrell Fox, and the other half is Terry Fox’s brother,” said Paterson. “I wake up as myself, but then I have to be Darrell Fox, Terry Fox’s brother, and people reach out to me and want to hear my stories and get strength from that.”
“He said that’s something that [he’s] been blessed with. It’s not a burden,” said Paterson.
Darrell Fox said in an interview that his brother would have wanted his story to be shared around the world because his goal was to eradicate cancer.
“That’s what it’s all about, raising one more dollar, one more euro for cancer research,” he said, adding that he will cherish the memories and experiences of every story he heard in Dublin.
He said in the 42 years since Terry died, every kilometre and every dollar has been an investment in lives.
“Nothing makes me happier and prouder to see how many red T-shirts they wear, red T-shirts on run day … that number is growing every year. That’s what it’s all about. Lives are being saved and that’s what I cherish the most,” he said.