Michael Gaudet doesn’t describe the more than 50-km trek he made from Borden-Carleton to Charlottetown yesterday as merely a “run”, but as a celebration of Canadian hero Terry Fox.
The 59-year-old Summerside resident laced up his running shoes exactly 32 years after Fox began his 1980 Marathon of Hope, re-tracing the same route the young runner took while he was on P.E.I.
The goal was not to raise money, but rather to have April 12 recognized nationally as Terry Fox Day, a grassroots effort started by Montreal resident and cancer survivor Eddy Nolan.
Gaudet said that Fox has always been a hero to him, as well as many others, for a number of reasons.
“There’s not a family I know that he (Fox) hasn’t touched through his Marathon of Hope. Six hundred million dollars has been raised in his name,” said Gaudet. “On top of that, what we did today (Thursday) was one day. He did it for 143 days with one leg. You just have to put your head behind that and realize that not only was he a hero but just an absolutely incredible athlete.”
Gaudet wasn’t alone in his P.E.I. effort. While no one else completed the entire trek, numerous runners joined him for pieces of his journey throughout the day.
Even during times when he ran alone, there were often passer-bys to lend some encouragement.
One highlight came when Gaudet passed Englewood Elementary school in Crapaud where students were waiting outside to cheer him on.
“That was very touching,” he said. “And there was a gentleman who came by in a transfer truck and he rolled down his window and came to a stop and yelled ‘three years cancer survivor’.”
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“There was all kinds of people beeping their horns, so you just realize that there is so many people that have been touched, and continue to be touched, by Terry Fox.”
Armed with a flag showing a picture of Fox running and text saying “Terry Fox Lives Here,” Gaudet ended his run at Province House. Gaudet was greeted by Premier Robert Ghiz and Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie before the runner presented his flag to the two.
Currie said the Marathon of Hope Fox created continues to be an inspiration to Canadians.
“His legacy and his memory and what he’s done for cancer research and the ongoing fight against cancer is just amazing really. Today is just another day to create awareness and to keep his legacy alive to continue fighting cancer,” said Currie, who also commended Gaudet on his effort. “For him to sort of publicly awaken that and bring attention to that is extremely admirable on his part.”
However, for Gaudet, making the trek was easy to do after having seen many loved ones affected by cancer.
“I’m 59-years-old so I’ve buried some really close friends that have been touched by cancer, my father as well as my good friend and mentor,” he said. “Terry Fox has extended an awful lot of those people’s lives, through $600 million he has touched a lot of people and kept a lot of people around for a lot longer.”
“This was an easy run for me to do. It wasn’t a run, it was a celebration for Terry Fox.”