SUMMERSIDE – It started in 2014. Pieter Kuijper and his wife, Martine, were vacationing in Victoria, British Columbia, when they stumbled on the Terry Fox statue in Beacon Hill Park.
“Coming from the Netherlands we hadn’t heard of this Canadian icon, so we were intrigued by his quote that read, ‘Somewhere the hurting must stop',” said Pieter, who was waiting on the Summerside boardwalk Sunday morning for Martine to complete the Terry Fox Run on Sept. 15.
Martine was among the 90 participants that laced up their running shoes and set off from Spinnakers’ Landing and down the boardwalk.
The fundraiser for the Terry Fox Foundation kicks off annually across the country, aiming to raise awareness and to find a cure for cancer.
“We started researching Terry on the internet after seeing that statue on our first trip. A couple of years later we returned to B.C. and came across another monument on the cross-country runner,” continued Pieter, who has found many similar monuments since.
The couple recently visited St. John’s, Newfoundland, where the curly-haired, then 21-year-old athlete started his cancer-fighting Marathon of Hope in 1980 – leaving a lasting legacy behind.
“Every year we travel to Canada and see something related to Terry Fox, so we now involve him in our holiday. We are on P.E.I. for three nights, and coincidentally saw the Terry Fox Run, so my wife runs in marathons in the Netherlands and had to be involved.”
Martine completed the run to the end of the boardwalk and back.
“This is my first Terry Fox Run and while I don’t have any relatives with cancer, I think this cause is extremely important,” she said.
“When I was running, and throughout our trip, I thought about Terry Fox and what he accomplished. I just completed a simple 10-kilometre run, but he ran across the country on one leg by himself, now that takes courage and determination,” said Martine.
“Reading about Terry, what he achieved, and how he couldn’t complete his marathon because the cancer spread, is a very sad story. But the reason Terry ran is something that inspires us. With the right mindset you can accomplish anything,” said Pieter.
Jon Cheverie, the organizer of the Summerside Terry Fox Run, said this event was the most successful to date.
“It could be the weather that has helped with the large number of participants, but it’s such an important cause because everyone’s affected by cancer,” said Cheverie.
Last year the local event raised more than $4,000 and this year Cheverie hopes the run will match or beat that amount.