Keeping the memory of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope alive holds special meaning for Leigh Sutherland who runs in memory of a childhood friend who passed away from cancer.
“It’s really important to me that I run it,” she said.
Like most Canadians, Sutherland first learned about Terry Fox and The Marathon of Hope in school.
Through school she started the annual tradition of keeping Terry Fox’s memory alive with the Terry Fox Run.
“We did it as a family,” she said, “I remember it at school I remember it as a family and that’s just what we did.”
After she graduated and through the early years of her kid’s lives, Sutherland’s participation in the Terry Fox Run became more sporadic.
This changed when she turned 40.
“I had a friend I went to school with…passed away from cancer.
“It was a very sudden thing, her battle was very short,” said Sutherland.
Having someone she went to school with pass so suddenly drove home for Sutherland the reality of cancer and importance of finding a cure.
“She was gone really quickly and that kind of makes you think,” she said.
“It really made me evaluate,” said Sutherland, “you think about cancer and about how it can just take somebody like that and you realize that this could happen to me.”
Sutherland said that with that realization came a feeling of helplessness because there’s very little she can do about it.
She decided to run the Terry Fox Run in her friend, Aileen’s memory that year.
“This was a way that I felt I could contribute,” she said.
“I could do something that makes me feel like I’m participating and doing something positive,” said Sutherland.
She is now 46 years-old and has been running it every year since Aileen died.
“I’ve run it injured, I’ve run it in all kinds of weather, I have missed things for it,” she said.
Sutherland said that she will keep running it every year until she can’t run any more.
Each year that she runs, the list of names she is running for grows.
“The first year I ran it, I ran it in Aileen’s name,” she said.
She also ran for a friend of her mom who was battling cancer.
“So every year I run it in their names and sadly every year the list gets longer of the people whose name I’m running it in,” said Sutherland.
This past September, Sutherland ran in Calgary at the McKenzie Towne Terry Fox Run.
In addition to running in the names of those who have either lost their battle to cancer or in the midst of one, Sutherland does collect sponsors for her run with all of the donations going to the Terry Fox Foundation.
Donations are still open and to date Sutherland has exceeded her $500 goal with total donations of $580.
To sponsor Sutherland’s run, go to www.terryfox.ca/leighsutherland.