The Terry Fox Flag flew proud on Thursday as hundreds of students from Lambrick Park, Gordon Head and Torquay schools all ran from Lambrick and Gordon Head schools to the beach at Mount Douglas to dip their toes in the ocean. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Students dip toes in Pacific Ocean on starting anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope

Lambrick, Gordon Head and Torquay students run to Mount Douglas beach

Lambrick Park secondary school did the Terry Fox Run a little differently this year.

On Thursday, April 12, the high school joined forces with two if its feeder schools, Gordon Head middle and Torquay elementary, as nearly 1,000 students combined for a group run to the Mount Douglas Park beach. Once there, students dipped their toes in the Salish Sea, just as Terry Fox dipped his artificial right leg in the Atlantic Ocean near St. John’s, Nfld., starting his run on April 12 of 1980.

Lambrick Park has participated in the national Terry Fox Run for 38 years (which happens in September), but this year Lambrick decided to change things up. Students sold $2 bracelets (minimum).

By tragic chance, the run also fell on what was national jersey day, as most members of the school wore a sports jersey to honour the 16 dead from the weekend’s Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus crash.

“We have a King and Queen of the Hill run up Mount Douglas in September [Sept. 29 in 2017] that we also associate with the Terry Fox Run,” said Lambrick Leadership member Cianna Gates, in Grade 11. “We are doing really well, my math class raised $100 and I’ve seen more than $300 raised in just a few of my classes.”

One student who had planned on being there was Kiera O’Connor, a Gordon Head teen fighting cancer who actually attends Mount Douglas secondary. O’Connor, who is recovering after intense chemotherapy to fight nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma, was set to partake but felt dizzy and had to undergo close monitoring this week. That meant traveling to Vancouver.

“Kiera is a Gordon Head kid and she just wanted to be here,” said Kiera’s step mom Lisa. “When she was in Vancouver during her cancer treatment she became close friends Rowan, a teen from Kaslo, who had the same bone cancer as Terry Fox. She lost her leg and has since died, so this was something Kiera hoped to be a part of.”

Kiera is also friends with a 17-year-old named Spencer who is also fighting bone cancer in Vancouver.

For Lambrick Park, the run was a big success said athletic director Gary Baker, who organized it.

“Traditionally, the [Terry Fox Run] has always been in the fall but this year, to try and rejuvenate this tradition, we decided to go with a new approach,” Baker said, “… [and] commemorate Terry Fox dipping his prosthetic leg in the Atlantic Ocean to begin his Marathon of Hope.”

All three schools are part of the same catchment family, and are excited to continue this as an annual tradition to raise ongoing attention and money for the Terry Fox Foundation, Baker added.

Among those participating in the run were a team of track runners from Ottawa’s Immaculata High School. The team is on an exchange that sees Lambrick students get the opportunity to visit Ottawa. The Immaculata students visited the local sights of Victoria and were first (of hundreds) to dip their toes in the water on Thursday’s run.

“Everyone has been very hospitable here and it’s great to partake in a Terry Fox run,” said Grade 12 student Tyrece Johnson. “Back home our school is big on the Terry Fox fundraiser, we pulled in $15,000 this year.”

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