I went for my weekend run yesterday, and prepared myself for the inevitable change as I move from my neighbourhood to the next where the acknowledgments stop. Anyone who passes me on the trail can’t see me, apparently, except other runners, who nod exhaustedly in my general direction. In my neighbourhood, the overwhelming fear of vergonia prevents anyone from ignoring a passerby – always a good morning, or a good evening.
Halfway through my run, I ran into a gaggle of pedestrians flanked by some runners, and realized that my path had intersected with the Terry Fox walkers/runners. We walked/ran along side each other, since I wasn’t part of the walk and didn’t have my requisite sticker. Scanning the quiet crowd, hoping to offer words of support, I didn’t notice anyone looking in my direction.
Then I noticed a young girl being walked/dragged by her mom on the walkers’ side. I slowed down and asked her if she would run my kms back home because I was feeling a bit tired today. She grimaced and complained that she was tired of walking. I smiled and asked her if she would consider running instead, and I picked up my pace as I waved goodbye and wished her luck in finishing.
Except she caught up to me and was skip-running, trying to continue the conversation. So I slowed down and skip-ran with her. Her name is Megan and she is in grade one; she has 19 kids in her class and she likes her school. I turned back to her mom and commented that I admired her for bringing her daughter along, but asked if her school was not hosting a Walk for Terry event, since I know my kids’ school is holding their walk this week.
Mom pointed out to me that because of the work-to-rule situation, there would be no walk at the school this year and that was why she had brought her daughter. I asked them if they had sponsors, and they said yes. We finally reached the point where I had to break away from the crowd and continue home, so we said goodbye and Megan was happily run skipping her walk for Terry, completely forgetting how she had felt a few blocks ago.
It saddened me to realize that there will be kids this year who will not be introduced to this awareness raising and community building event – some kids will be new to school, some new to this country. Walk for Terry embodies so many lessons that educators cannot teach in the classroom. My ESL adult learners often comment that Terry Fox is the first Canadian they learned about, and how he serves as an inspiration for their English learning and how he embodies Canadian grit and how big people’s dreams can be in this country. I remember watching Terry’s funeral on TV, and how moved I was as a child that a teenager had had the idea to run across this country.
I’m glad mom took Megan on the walk to make her aware.
Photo credit: Gail Harvey & The Terry Fox Foundation