Niall McKee has the scars on his right leg to remind him how lucky he is to be alive.
He’s also got Terry Fox to thank.
Fox, whose Marathon of Hope inspired millions to follow in his footsteps and has raised more than $600 million nationwide for cancer research, lost his leg after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
Three decades after Fox’s untimely death, McKee found himself facing the same diagnosis, but luckily not the same prognosis.
“Every single step has its ups and downs. The whole process was very difficult and it’s very nice to be at an event like this to see so many people coming out and fundraising for such a great cause. This event is basically what saved my leg,” McKee said Sunday at Boulevard Lake, where he joined about 500 others for the annual fundraising Terry Fox run.
“I appreciate everyone who comes out to this.”
McKee said improvements to imaging techniques, made possible by money raised as a result of Fox and his legacy, is the reason he’s alive today to tell his tale.
“It’s very touching to see everything and everybody. It’s incredible. It’s an unexplainable feeling and emotion.”
The day of the run is always an emotional one for Barb Philp, who encountered Fox during his Marathon of Hope, crossing paths with the Canadian icon in 1980 on her way to university.
She subsequently lost both parents to cancer, making the run even more personal than it already was.
“I saw him running up the hill, just outside of Nipigon, and I’ve got to tell you, I think it was three days later it brought a tear to my eye, knowing that race had ended,” she said.
“The legacy for me is the number of people who have continued that race, whether it’s running, walking or cycling. Every year there are scores of people who want to finish that race and make it across Canada. And that raises money not just for cancer, but for every other fundraiser that’s out there. They’re raising money for a cause.”
Katelyn Gallant was one of a large contingent of Lakehead University students who ran in last year’s race in Milton, Ont.
She was running for Jeff Roy, a high school friend who lost his life to cancer a couple of years ago.
Though Fox died more than a decade before she was born, she feels it’s important to carry on with the work he began.
“I think cancer pretty much hits everyone’s lives in some way. So I think it’s important for everyone to come support the cause,” Gallant said.
Organizer Don Morrison said last year’s run raised about $30,000, a goal he was hoping to hit or surpass in 2013.
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