Skip to content

Local runner's cancer battle inspired by Terry Fox

Haley Davis readies for her 150 km fundraising run in support of cancer foundations
20200215 Haley Davis KA
Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday file photo

As Haley Davis prepares for a 150 km fundraising run next month, she takes inspiration from Terry Fox and his mission to help conquer cancer one step at a time.

Davis, a graduate of John F. Ross and member of the University of Guelph track and cross country team, recently underwent her second surgery and six weeks of radiation therapy for a rare type of brain tumour.

“Terry Fox is a hero to many people, to me especially,” she said. “I connect with his story a bit more personally. He’s always been such an inspiration.”

Beginning May 1, the avid runner plans to complete the Guelph to Goderich Rail Trail in five days – a campaign dubbed Strides and Smiles. She plans to tackle the 150 km distance with two 15-km intervals per day, accompanied by her father on bike, and beginning each day where the previous one left off.

“I definitely think it’s achievable. I wanted to make it a bit of a challenge,” Davis said of the distance. “I felt like I was challenging myself and it was a significant amount, but something that would be manageable and attainable.”

Funds raised will be split between the Terry Fox Foundation and the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Besides the obvious reasons, Davis said she selected those charities with specific purposes in mind.

The Terry Fox Foundation supports research into a variety of cancer types, while the Brain Tumour Foundation includes a pediatric research element as well as a focus on patient care and enhancing the lives of people with brain cancer.

“There’s so many reasons why I feel the need (to support those foundations),” Davis said. “Ultimately, I just feel so fortunate that I am still able to do this, I’m still able to run and I know that there are so many people who are not as fortunate as me.”

Before putting her phone away in an effort to avoid distractions as she prepared for exams, Davis launched a GoFundMe page to collect donations for Strides and Smiles, with a $10,000 goal. As of Monday morning, nearly $13,000 in pledges had been made.

“Oh my goodness. I’m still in shock,” she said. “People are amazing. It’s awesome.

“I’d just love to raise as much money as possible for this amazing cause.”

Davis was diagnosed with a rare type of brain tumour during the summer of 2019 and underwent her first surgery before signing with the University of Guelph. 

This past winter she learned there were some residual cells left behind and her second surgery took place in January, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy.

Though she initially planned to do a larger fundraising run of some type, the Guelph to Goderich trail is the safest and best option available to her at the moment.

As for her experience on the university team during the pandemic, Davis said, “We still got to practice quite a bit. We didn’t have any races, but we were able to do some time trials and I still was able to train fully with the team. It was awesome. 

“Honestly, my training was going probably better than it had in so long, just with the amazing coaches and talented athletes.”