Marathon Of Hope 40 Years On: Terry Would ‘Appreciate The World Has Taken Up His Quest In The Fight Against Cancer’

Life takes many unexpected or unexplained twistsBill Vigars

Above: Dinner at the French River Trading Post south of Sudbury. Clockwise from left: Patrick, Doug Alward Terry’s friend and van driver, Marleen Lott a local volunteer, Terry, Kerry Anne and Bill. Below left, Terry and Bill in a familiar scene – on the side of a highway; bottom right, hijinks with the kids at the end of the day. (All photos by Gail Harvey)

By Bill Vigars, Special to the blog

Pinehurst and Trelawn Parkway. The corner house was our first home in Welland. I think the “tree fort” I built in the spring of 1975 still stands in the backyard. At least that is what Google satellite tells me.

I had moved my young family from my hometown of St. Thomas to become the manager of the Welland Chamber of Commerce. We enjoyed five memorable years in the Rose City. Many friendships made, many still intact.

Life takes many unexpected or unexplained twists. Five years later, almost to the day that I had moved into the house in Welland, I joined Terry Fox in what would become a historic event in our lifetime and I was able to be there.

I had left Welland in January of 1980 to take the position of Canadian Cancer Society’s director of fundraising and public relations in downtown Toronto. My first couple of months I was deeply involved in the annual April Cancer Society campaign. That all changed abruptly when my boss handed me a one page letter and said, “There’s a kid running across Canada with one leg, go see what you can do for him.”

The first time I met Terry was in Edmunston, New Brunswick, June 7 at 5 in the morning. By mid-morning I knew this kid was something special. I saw the drive, the determination. I heard him speak to small crowds about how he watched the kids in the hospital back in Vancouver fight the disease. He spoke from the heart. He moved people. He was genuine.

I spent that summer with him playing the role of organizer, publicist, dad, clown and listener. I was fortunate enough that the circumstances allowed me to take my children, Kerry Anne, 9 at the time and Patrick, 8, along with me for the adventure. Terry liked to relax with the kids at the end of the day. On the weekends, the three of us would jump into the car and drive back to the peninsula so Patrick could continue playing with his soccer team.

2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope. Two years ago I was able to go to a Terry Fox run in Guanzhou, China, where Patrick teaches at an international school. I stood on the stage and looked out at 8,000 kids running for Terry’s cause. He would smile and appreciate that the world has taken up his quest in the fight against cancer.  If you want to see how your support is working, check out the Terry Fox Research Institute, https://www.tfri.ca/

There is a little bit of Terry Fox in every Canadian.

(Editor’s note: I’ve kept in touch with Bill over the years through email and social media. When I spotted a recent post about the 40th anniversary, I asked him to provide a reflection about his involvement with Terry and the Marathon of Hope. Thanks, Bill!)

Welland Eases Some Public Access Restrictions

WELLAND The City of Welland is moving forward with re-opening some public spaces. City Council and staff want to remind the public that as access to outdoors areas open, physical distancing and wearing a face-covering helps curb the spread of COVID-19.

Beautiful Chippawa Park (File photo/ Joe Barkovich)

Residents must abide by restrictions that limit groups to no more than five people and maintain a two-metre physical separation. Passive activities are now permitted in these areas:

  • Welland BMX and Skate Park
  • All City Parks (excluding playground equipment, pools, splash-pads, sports fields, & washrooms)
  • River Road Boat Launch
  • Canal Lands Trails
  • Lincoln St. Docks
  • Dog Park: No more than five people and their dogs allowed in the large dog area. No more than three people and their dogs in the small dog area. Residents are also reminded to clean up after their dogs to help keep the park clean for all to enjoy 

It’s recommended that anyone taking advantage of these spaces follow the best practices to limit the spread of COVID-19 as outlined by Niagara Region Public Health. These include frequent hand washing, physical separation, avoiding touching of shared surfaces, and staying home if displaying symptoms or having been in close contact with cases of COVID-19.

City of Welland By-law Enforcement will continue to enforce gatherings larger than five people in public areas.

(Source: City of Welland news release)

May 28: When Tulip Bulbs Have Their Day In The Rose City

Used tulip bulbs from beds like this one will be distributed gratis to local gardeners May 28 at the Sports Complex parking area. (File photo/Joe Barkovich)

WELLAND –  If you want free, used tulip bulbs courtesy of the city, don’t go to Chippawa Park to stand in line and wait your turn as in previous years. There won’t be anyone there.

The popular rite of spring with a robust following by hundreds in the Rose City’s  “green thumb” community won’t be cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions although it is being transplanted to another site.

The date is Thursday, May 28, Peter Boyce, manager of parks, planning and maintenance, wrote in an email communication. There will be no rain date.

The drive-up event will be held at Quaker Road Sports Complex, 90 Quaker Rd., from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., time based on bulb availability. A limit of one bag per vehicle will be in effect.

“All staff /residents must respect physical distancing rules and regulations,” is one of the stipulations in the email.  

“All staff must wear required PPE including, gloves, medical masks, safety vests etc.,” is another.

Bulb seekers will drive into the parking area via the east entrance, a queue will be set up with barricades and delineators.

The pick-up area will be set up on the west side of the parking lot. 

A bag will be deposited on the ground or a table by staff at the pick-up location. In compliance with physical distancing, staff will back away from the drop area. The driver or passenger will exit the vehicle, pick up the bag from the drop area, place it in the vehicle and then get back into the vehicle which will then drive away. The vehicle will exit the parking lot from the west entrance.

The used bulbs come from Welland’s eye-popping floral showcase beds found in several locations in the city. Some examples are the two beds on Prince Charles Drive near West Side fire station and one in Riverbank Park off Niagara Street at Riverbank.

As in previous years, about 8,000 used bulbs will be available. They come in a variety of colours.

The bulb giveaway has a huge following among local gardeners, with 300 or more “green thumbs” showing up for it many years. 

It was previously held outside Chippawa Park’s maintenance building, Fitch Street and First Avenue. In past years bulb distribution didn’t begin until 8 a.m. but that didn’t stop early birds from arriving an hour or more before start time, just so they could be at the front of the line.

File shot shows gardeners waiting in line at Chippawa Park for used tulip bulbs. This year’s giveaway has been moved to the Sports Complex, Quaker Road.