Terry’s Fish Bowl

terry fox, glemena, marathon of hope, distance runner

TERRY’S FISH BOWL

By: Glemena Bettencourt, Terry Fox Foundation

My very first awareness of Terry Fox was in 1980 when I was 19 years old. I read an article about a young man who was about to attempt to run across our great nation Canada. As I read further and learned that this journey would be on an artificial leg, I was captivated. My thought was “What kind of person does something like this?” From this moment I followed his Marathon of Hope, eagerly awaiting any articles from the newspaper or the television. My amazement and awe quickly turned into a desire to somehow support him in his Marathon in whatever way I could.

I had a GLASS FISH BOWL, (no fish though), which I used to collect door to door donations in Terry’s name. Each morning I would take the collected donations to the then North York Unit of the Canadian Cancer Society. I ran to the newspaper box, as each Friday, there would be an update of Terry’s progress.

Soon, as Terry stayed true to his commitment, I expanded my donation collections to include malls via talking to local mall management and setting up booths to bring awareness to and donations for Terry. My anticipation and excitement became almost unmanageable as each step he ran brought him closer to my hometown of Toronto.

Finally the day came when Terry was going to run into Nathan Phillips Square where a special event was planned in his honour. Knowing that there would be thousands of people at this event, I decided to wait until the following day, along the route I knew he would be running. I chose to stand on Lakeshore Blvd in Mississauga. This decision proved to be a momentous one for me.

First, there was the flashing lights of his police escort, then his curly locks as he came over the hill, bouncing up and down in time to his unmistakable double hop stride, his face dripping with sweat from the intense heat of the day. As Terry got closer I knew I was truly in the presence of my Hero. As Terry ran past, I started to run parallel, outside of the crowd, to keep him in my sight as long as I could. He suddenly veered off the road toward a local restaurant and went inside for a meal. I waited outside with the growing crowd. Bill Vigars and his brother Darrell Fox suddenly came outside and asked for ten volunteers to run behind Terry collecting donations from the cheering crowd. I leapt the highest (even though only five foot three!), and was one of the lucky ones chosen.

I was the first runner placed behind Terry and beside a police officer on motorcycle who ended up getting me Terry’s autograph that day. Those three miles turned into ten, which took me a week to recover from and gave me a deeper appreciation of how difficult this must have been for Terry to run a Marathon each day.

Eleven days later, (July 23rd 1980), a reporter at the Toronto Sun, Lorrie Goldstein who knew of my commitment to raising funds for Terry, arranged a surprise meeting with Terry Fox on my behalf, on the very same day he was in town to meet his hero Bobby Orr at the Four Seasons Hotel.

In a nutshell this meeting was a turning point in my life. A moment I could never have ever dreamed of. Terry was so happy and excited from previously meeting Bobby Orr and, deeply appreciative of my humble efforts to support his dream. I laughed…… I was overwhelmed….. Honored…….moved to tears and driven to a lifetime commitment of being forever dedicated to his cause. A commitment which thirty five years later remains true.

After meeting Terry in 1980, I became what I called myself “Marathon of Hope Groupie”.

Terry Fox, Marathon of Hope, Terry Fox

Glemena Bettencourt with Terry Fox.

I participated in his Marathon of Hope in whatever way I could i.e. in Georgetown, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Parry Sound, where I collected donations, sold T . Shirts etc, etc. As my last day (July 30th 1980) as a “groupie” in Parry Sound I presented Terry with a belated birthday present, as we sat at the picnic table where he was having his dinner, and chatted about his day. This was my last memory of being with Terry.

Today I am so proud to be known as a “TERRY FOXER” and the local community Terry Fox Run organizer in Oak Ridges, Ontario. One of my greatest passions is visiting schools to share my story about Terry, make sure he is never forgotten, and that his dream of a world free of cancer lives on in each generation…..

THE MARATHON OF HOPE CONTINUES…

Glemena Bettencourt

Terry Fox Run – Organizer

Oak Ridges, Ontario

glemena10@gmail.com

 

 

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