For Raymond Aiello, participating in the annual Terry Fox Run is a tradition ever since he ran alongside Terry Fox in Etobicoke in the 1980 Marathon of Hope.
“I ran with Terry Fox from Humber River to Long Branch, and ever since I never missed one (run),” Aiello said after completing his 37th Terry Fox Run. “(Terry Fox) gave me so much pain. Seeing him walking twice to make one step, it was painful,” he said.
Aiello lost two younger brothers to cancer, and on Sept. 16, 2018 he ran in the annual Terry Fox Ru at the West Deane Park in their name.
A life-long runner, Aiello is known as “Raymond the Runner” at the Memorial Pool and Health Club on Montgomery Road. In the first year after Fox’s passing, he started the Mimico Terry Fox Run at the Royal Canadian Legion on Royal York Road and Queen Street (today – The Queensway). Now he runs at West Deane.
Sheila Sprenger has been organizing the West Deane run for 13 years. She has family members and friends diagnosed with cancer. Her father comes out every year to walk the Run, and this year she walked with him.
“My father had prostate cancer, my mother had breast cancer, my aunt currently has breast cancer, my mother-in-law is currently battling bone cancer, and very close friends of our family have lost a five-year-old daughter to a brain tumor,” said Sprenger.
Sprenger said that although it’s called a run, it is not just for runners.
“We want everyone to come out and take part. As Terry Fox said, if you’ve given a dollar – you are part of the Marathon of Hope,” said Sprenger.
This year Canada marked the 38th anniversary of the Terry Fox Run. Terry Fox started his marathon on April 12, 1980, after undergoing an amputation to his right knee in 1977 due to osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer). He wanted to raise awareness about cancer and to gather funds to help find the cure.
According to the official Terry Fox Run website, over $750 million have been raised globally to advance cancer research. The West Deane Run in Etobicoke hopes to contribute as much as $50 thousand in donations this year. Raymond Aiello and Sheila Sprenger are only two of more than 500 West Deane Park Terry Fox Run participants this year, who contributed on Sunday to Terry Fox’s dream of finding the cure to cancer.