Pat Burgess will do his 40th Terry Fox run this year - Covid19 will not deter him - third in a series

News 100 redBy Burlington Terry Fox Run Committee

July 13th, 2020



terry-fox-running-across-from-monumentThe Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research, an annual event in Burlington since 1981, won’t take place this year in its usual form. The physical distancing rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t permit large gatherings. And Terry Fox events are very large gatherings

This isn’t just in Burlington, but runs across the country. Volunteers from this outstanding community have worked hard for 39 years to grow the event to the point where it has raised $2.2 million for cancer research.

They were not prepared to just let the event dribble away – it was going to take more than a pandemic to close them down.

After the Foundation announced that the 40th Terry Fox Run would be a virtual event, the Burlington Terry Fox Run Committee decided to take a creative approach to informing the community and telling parts of the unknown story.

Profiles of the people who got the event to where it is today appear on the Terry Fox Lives in Burlington blog and are being republished by the Gazette with permission.

In 1980, Pat Burgess was 25 years old and newly married. That year was also the year that he was inspired by Terry Fox’s daily running to raise money for cancer research. 1980 was the year Pat Burgess started running for Terry, to keep the Terry’s dream alive.

He hasn’t stopped.

Turning 65 in October, Pat plans to keep running, with “no end in sight,” he says. His knees are good, so he will just keep going. He has run in marathons and runs nearly every day.
Pat grew up in Niagara Falls, and was living in Toronto during Terry’s run. He didn’t see Terry run in person, but Pat was so inspired by

Terry’s challenge to others to carry on, that he incorporated Terry into his motivation for his running.

39 Years of Running for Terry

Every September since 1981, he has put on a Terry t-shirt and completed the 10 km course, dedicating his effort to Terry’s memory. Pat added to his personal memories when he visited the Terry Fox Monument outside Thunder Bay.

pat burgee - skyline background

Pat Burgess wearing a T shirt that has seen him through 39 Terry Fox runs.

His favourite shirt, one of his first among many bought over the years, bears the message, “We Can Do It,” and features Terry in front of a crowd. Pat likes the inclusiveness of all ages in the image. That’s something he has noticed over the years: that participation is ramping up, that there are more children and families involved. He likes that.

Pat likes the current route, along the Waterfront Trail, and is glad that runners can make the earlier start. But he adds that “most people are very courteous” to make room for the walkers and the slower participants. He also singled out the “very nice volunteers, the apples and fruit” that are part of each event.

So, 2020 is a big year for Pat Burgess: the 40th anniversary of Terry’s run, and his own 40th wedding anniversary.

Photographs provided by Pat Burgess from his personal collection

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