With safety and social distancing top of mind amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Rocky View County (RVC) will be adapting their annual Terry Fox Runs later this month to comply with public health guidelines.
According to a statement from Rocky View Schools (RVS), staff from each school can decide whether or not to proceed with the Terry Fox Run, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month.
“RVS supports proceeding with the event as long as schools can take the appropriate health and safety precautions and maintain two-meter physical distancing requirements,” the statement said.
Schools across Canada hold the charity runs every September to commemorate Terry Fox, who attempted to run across Canada in 1980 to raise money for cancer research. Fox, who was just 21 years old, spent 143 days running the equivalent of a marathon each day and travelled nearly 5,400 kilometres while using a prosthetic leg.
In the northern part of RVC, Crossfield Elementary School will hold its Terry Fox Run at an undetermined future date. According to principal Bob Rodgers, the run will be staggered and students from each class will run with their own cohort.
“We’ll spread it out throughout the entire day so we only have one class running at a time,” he said. “The teachers will decide if they run, walk or do a combination thereof.”
According to Rodgers, past iterations of Crossfield Elementary’s Terry Fox Run included the whole school and lasted nearly an hour. The run, which would circle the school building, Crossfield and District Community Centre and the Pete Knight Memorial Arena, was also open to older students from W.G. Murdoch School.
“We’ve been doing it for more than 20 years and we’ve been doing it along with Murdoch for a long time, so it’s been an excellent community-builder between the two schools,” Rodgers said. “We anticipate going back to that as soon as we’re able to.”
Rodgers added the fundraising component of the school's Terry Fox Run will continue. He said the school's goal is always to raise at least $650 toward cancer research, equivalent to $2 from each student and staff member.
On the east side of the county, Sarah Thompson School will host a similar run in Langdon Sept. 18. Principal Ryan Siemens said there will be three separate runs that morning, with groups cohorted in their grade levels.
“Luckily, it’s an event we do outside, which helps a big deal,” he said. “We’re staggering it, so instead of doing one large run with the school and lots of community volunteers, we’re just doing it on a smaller scale.”
In a typical year, Siemens said Sarah Thompson’s Terry Fox Run would include a pre-run pep rally in the gymnasium where students would learn about Terry Fox and his advocacy for cancer research. Given this year’s gathering restrictions, he said the pep rally will be held digitally, meaning students will watch a pre-recorded video from their classrooms.
“While we do the run, what makes it important is that it’s an excellent opportunity to teach our kids about how they can contribute to an important cause, like cancer research, while also learning about the legacy of Terry Fox,” he said. “The run is fun and it gets people together, but hopefully there’s some learning that the kids take away.”
According to the Terry Fox Foundation, Fox’s “Marathon of Hope” has raised more than $800 million towards cancer research in the last 40 years.