Life takes many unexpected or unexplained twists – Bill Vigars
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!)