Local run organizer Marilyn Hodgson and Colleen Laflour with Kaitlyn Laflour, 5. This year’s race, scheduled for Sept. 20, will be virtual. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Support for Terry Fox runs through Central Saanich family

A virtual version of the annual run to raise funds for cancer research happens this Sunday

Kaitlyn Laflour of Central Saanich might just be five years old, but she is already in the running to be among the most committed participants of the Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research.

“I ran the whole way during the Terry Fox Run [last year] and then we ran again,” said Kaitlyn during a visit in Centennial Park, the historical start and finish point for the Saanich Peninsula edition of the fundraiser.

In fact, Kaitlyn can easily claim a perfect participation record.

“Kaitlyn has done it since she has been one year old, in the carrier probably the first two years, and then she walked in her third year, and then last year, she liked it so much, she did it twice,” said her mother, Colleen Laflour.

It is this sort of enthusiasm that promises to sustain the event into the future.

More immediately, run organizers across the country, like local race organizer Marilyn Hodgson, have had to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced organizers to stage a virtual event on Sept. 20, on the event’s 40th anniversary.

Hodgson admits disappointment in missing out on the event’s traditional community feel with pancakes, bagpipes and kids swirling around Centennial Park in Central Saanich. But the enthusiastic Hodgson is nonetheless encouraging residents to participate and donate in any way they can.

“You walk it, you run it, you bike ride it, you paddle-board it, you can do something to dedicate your time to Terry,” she said.

Would-be donors, who can count on receiving their tax receipts within minutes, can also participate in other ways. They include a telethon running locally Friday afternoon from 5 to 7 p.m. featuring local celebrities and members of the Fox family.

ALSO READ: Terry Fox Run goes virtual for 40th anniversary of Marathon of Hope

A limited number of commemorative 40th anniversary Terry Fox T-shirts will also be on sale at Saanichton’s Fresh Cup Cafe on Friday, Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., while quantities last. The cafe’s owner and president, Jim Townley, will also donate $1 for every cup of drip coffee sold on Friday.

“We had to be very creative and that is why I am putting out more of a plea around the community to raise awareness that there is still a virtual run happening,” Hodgson said. “We can still make our contribution and we can still go to terryfox.org and get information and get inspiration, almost more so than we have had in the past.”

Hodgson admits to uncertainty about what will happen next year but hopes the run will return to its regular format in taking inspiration from Fox himself.

“He is the epitome of determination and perseverance and that is what we all in the foundation are trying to be,” she said. “Regardless of the obstacles that we have right now, we are determined to bring together a fun fundraising event, overcome these obstacles and keep bringing the Terry Fox Run to communities and generations of kids.”

Hodgson has certainly been inspirational for the Laflours.

“We are blessed that Marilyn is our neighbour,” said Colleen. Hodgson has not only been a help with day-to-day matters but also introduced Kaitlyn to Terry Fox’s story. As such, she is following in Colleen’s footsteps.

“The Terry Fox Run has always been a big part of my family life when I grew up,” Colleen said. “I did it when I was little.”

The event has since become even more meaningful after a recent loss in the family to cancer. “My dad passed away from cancer last year, so it has become even more important to me,” she said.

Kaitlyn, who is running for her grandfather this year, albeit virtually, does not yet appreciate the larger goals of the Terry Fox run.

“As far as she is concerned, Terry Fox is in heaven, Papa is in heaven, that is the only connection that she really has,” Colleen said. “We did say to her that they both had cancer, but she doesn’t get it at this point.”

This said, Colleen is more than pleased to see her daughter’s involvement with the run. “It’s important that she knows who Terry is … Terry is one of the top Canadian heroes and I am proud that she is a part of it.”

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

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Held up by her father, Wayne, Kaitlyn Laflour was one year old when she took part in her first Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research. (Courtesy of Colleen Laflour)

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