Obsessive Runner School Ties

School Ties


Andrew Chak goes back to school to see how today’s students respond to Terry’s memory. Hint: Through their dedication, he learns something about himself.

When it comes to the annual Terry Fox Run at Millwood Junior School in Etobicoke, Ontario, they’re all in. They run and they get the whole community involved in a spirited, demonstrative manner to raise money for cancer research. Their enthusiasm and commitment has helped them to raise more than $5,000 over each of the past two years.
I had a chance to chat with a group of Grade 5 students at Millwood to gain an understanding as to what Terry Fox meant to them. I started the conversation by going through a brief recap as to who Terry was, the struggles he faced and what he accomplished during his lifetime. As the students reflected on Terry’s life, I was struck by the impact his story had in inspiring them to be able to overcome challenges.

What words would you use to describe Terry Fox?
The first question I asked the students was to share what words they would use to describe Terry.
“Courageous. He went out and did something no one else had done before.”
“Selfless. He thought of those who were suffering with cancer with no hope and wanted to help them.”
“Eager. He was eager to finish the marathon. He was eager to raise money for cancer research.”
“Persevering. He kept on going even if it hurt him.”
I was impressed with how the students picked up on Terry’s selflessness in what he did and I was glad that this was something that stood out to them.

What is important for other kids to know about Terry Fox?
As the students heard more about what Terry did and how he did it, I asked them what they thought was important for other kids to know about him.
“That he ran to raise money for cancer research and not to be famous.”
“That he set a good example for others to follow.”
“That he proved that something really difficult could be done.”
“That giving can help you and others no matter how hard it is.”
“To never give up.”
As the students shared their answers, I could see their minds processing new possibilities within their own lives as they realized that challenging goals could be accomplished even if they are hard to do.

How does Terry Fox inspire you?
The final question I asked these students was for them to share how Terry has inspired them.
“To never give up on your dream.”
“To persevere – even if you don’t want to keep on going.”
“To always keep going no matter what.”
“If you work hard, anything is possible.”
“To believe in yourself.”
Listening to these students’ answers was an important reminder for me to believe in myself. Committing to a goal takes constant re-commitment and it always helpful to hear and re-hear the stories of those who kept on going.

A persevering story
As the students shared their answers, I couldn’t help but be moved. When I heard how inspired they were from Terry’s story, they inspired me. As the students from Millwood Junior School have shown, the response to Terry’s story is one of persevering inspiration, and the way in which we must respond is to persevere in sharing it with others.

Andrew Chak is a father of three boys and author of The Obsessive Runner blog. He’s a Canada Running Series and Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend digital ambassador and part of the Rock ‘n’ Blog team for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series.