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Terry Fox organizers in Penticton hit their stride

Brent Fitzgerald laces up wife Lisa
Brent Fitzgerald laces up wife Lisa's walking shoes in preparation for this year's annual Terry Fox Run which begins at the S.S. Sicamous on Sunday, Sept. 14. The couple are taking over the organization duties for this year's fundraising event and are encouraging people to come out and support the cause.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

New organizers are now hitting their stride with this year’s Terry Fox Run just around the bend.

Several hundred people are expected to pound the pavement during the event, set for Sunday, Sept. 14, which raises money for  cancer research.

Staging the run in Penticton this year are Brent and Lisa Fitzgerald, who assumed the duties from long-time organizer Bill Palmer.

Lisa, an RBC customer service specialist, said she read in the newspaper last year that Palmer was looking for someone to replace him, then explored the idea with him further after spotting his table at the farmers’ market.

“I went  home and I said to Brent, ‘I think this is something we should really do. It’s not something that I feel like our community can lose and I want to be involved.’”

She got her wish and the pair went to work.

Brent, vice-president of Arteena, a local logging equipment manufacturer, said he’s devoted most of his time lately to soliciting donations from local businesses and recruiting volunteers.

“Like at the aid stations, handing out water and stuff like that. Many hands make light work,” he said, adding that with 10 helpers already signed up, he’s still looking for 10 more.

Lisa said the 200 runners who took part last year raised $5,700 and she’s hoping to beat that total this year by promoting the event more heavily through social media. Not that it’s a tough sell.

“People watched Terry run his Marathon of Hope across Canada and that was something that really resonated with everybody, whether you had cancer (or) you knew someone who had cancer. You were touched by it so profoundly,” she said.

Schools typically hold their own Terry Fox runs later on in September, although those could be threatened by the labour dispute. Lisa hopes parents will instead sign up their kids in the community event.

Registration for the run begins at the SS Sicamous at 9 a.m. Participants then head out at 10 a.m. on the out-and-back course along the Channel Parkway for two, five or 10 kilometres.

Pledge sheets can be downloaded online from www.terryfox.org or picked up from Lisa, who can be reached by phone at 250-460-2656 or email at terryfoxrunpenticton@gmail.com.

An information table will also be set up all next week at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.

This year marks the 34th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, which Fox undertook to raise money for cancer research. Despite having one leg amputated, he was able to run the equivalent of one marathon each day of his journey, which began in St. Johns, Nfld., and ended near Thunder Bay, Ont., when he became too ill to carry on.

The runs now held in his honour each year raise about $24 million annually.

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