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Terry Fox's legacy will continue in Guelph with new run coordinator

Taking the place of David Picard, Theresa McGeragle hopes to continue to keep Terry Fox's legacy alive in Guelph

Theresa McGeragle has big running shoes to fill. But the Guelph woman believes she's up for the challenge as the new organizer of the city’s annual Terry Fox Run.

Taking the place of previous organizer David Picard, McGeragle hopes to continue to keep the legacy of Terry Fox alive in her community.

“Having participated in the run for over 10 years now, Terry Fox has become a big inspiration, personally,” McGeragle said.

“When training for runs, he is constantly on my mind because he encourages me to continue, without complaint, because of his own inspirational journey.”

Speaking with a provincial organizer, McGeragle said she became concerned after hearing the Guelph Terry Fox Run would not continue without somebody able to represent and organize the event.

“After 40 years in Guelph, my first concern was making sure that the run would continue. I am excited to take on this role and others have also shown interest in volunteering,” McGeragle said.

“I don’t want to be seen as a solitary figure in this role. I want to see this as a collaboration between people.”

When it comes to the Terry Fox Run, David Picard is a community staple in helping keep the memory of Terry Fox alive in Guelph.

After organizing the event for over 34 years, and at 70 years of age, Picard said he’s ready to pass on the baton.

“One of the main reasons that inspired me to get into running, in my earlier years, was Terry Fox. I used to run marathons. I set him as an example for myself and I was swept up in it as was everyone else in the early 1980s,”  Picard said.

Picard first began organizing Terry Fox runs at the former Guelph Correctional Centre until 2000, just before the centre closed a year later. 

“Then I became involved with the city run. Within a couple years, I began organizing those, and have ever since,” Picard said.

“When I turned 70 last year, I thought it was time to pull back a bit and have somebody else build a more leadership role. I like Theresa's enthusiasm. That's what this event needs. I will still be involved, just not to the extent that I was in the past. But I'll be there.”

Having support from the community over the years, has meant a great deal to Picard.

“My dad died of cancer in 2005. Of course, after that, the run takes on a different meaning,” Picard said.

“Terry Fox was adamant about money going to cancer research, more so than treatment, and that is because of the experiences he saw when he was undergoing treatment himself. He was touched by the young people he saw."

First and foremost, Picard said the run is about raising funds for cancer research.

“It’s not a competition. Its about participation. Terry's goal was to raise $20 million, which did happen, but unfortunately, he was not alive to see it,” Picard said. “But the run still goes on. And that is the best example of Terry Fox.”

As a schoolteacher, McGeragle said she enjoys being able to shed light about who Terry Fox was with her students at Queen of Heaven Catholic Elementary School in Milton.

“My Grade 5 students all know of someone who has had cancer. I think that that is something that touches people to their core because it is a scary thing to face and deal with,” McGeragle said.

“This is special for me because there are not many people that have not been touched in some way by cancer. That could be a personal experience, a family member, or friend.”

Along with being able to maintain the run locally, McGeragle said she has a personal goal to increase the number of participants.

“For a couple years during the pandemic, the run was virtual. Last year, we had 258 participants in Guelph, which is really awesome, but we have had up to 570 participants in the past,” McGeragle said.  

“That would be a personal success to make this happen. I just want to get the word out. This run been happening here for over 40 years. I want to let people know that it still exists, and to get out there and participate.”

McGeragle said it’s not a contest, and  everyone is welcome to walk, roller blade or cycle.

“We all recognize that Terry Fox is considered one of our greatest Canadians. Everything about him focuses on positivity, determination, and courage. Many people can relate to him or become inspired by him,” McGeragle said.  

“I see my role as being an organizer with what I hope will be a collaborative group of people who care to keep the run alive, and that continue to focus on Terry’s dream.”

The Terry Fox Run campaign launches on April 12, commemorating the day Terry began his run in St. John’s Newfoundland in 1980.

This year’s Terry Fox Run will take place on Sept. 15, between 8 a.m. and noon at the Wellington and Edinburgh Pavilion, on the Royal Recreation Trail.

For a T-shirt prior to the run, and/or for more information, email [email protected] or visit the Terry Fox Guelph Facebook page.

Any community groups or businesses that would like to assist with offering snacks on the day of the run, or space in their window to hang posters are welcome.

People are encouraged to visit Terry Fox to sign up for the run as a solo participant or as a team.