The G.I.R.L. Run Club of Grand Falls-Windsor went out with a bang this season, accomplishing their goal distance, while also holding the first Terry Fox Run in the town in six years.
According to the history of the Terry Fox Run in Grand Falls-Windsor, the run was hit or miss since 2000, with 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005 lacking events.
The last run in Grand Falls-Windsor in 2006 raised close to $800.
However, until this year, that was the last time the community had the opportunity to take part in the event.
But thanks to the new G.I.R.L. Run Club, the 15 participants, and support from the community, $530 was raised for the run that took place Sunday morning.
“The G.I.R.L. Run Club is a provincial program and they’ve always built it around finishing on the Terry Fox Run, so we decided we would do the same,” said club co-ordinator Natalie Nichols.
And it turned out to be a huge success, and something the group will continue, Nichols said.
“The energy around it was very positive,” she said. “A lot of the people there were talking about volunteering next year and we all had ideas and ways of building it and making it a bigger, more interactive event.”
Though she wished for a few more participants, she said it was fortunate to have a small group for the trial year.
“It was nice to get those growing pains out of the way, and hopefully next year, we can move forward and build upon our experience from this year,” she said.
Nichols said she would like to create the event to be fun and entertaining, something more up beat and motivational.
“I would like to see it become something that is focused on Terry Fox and what he stood for because that’s what the event is supposed to be about,” Nichols said. “Often times we lose sight of that. Everyone is affected somehow by cancer so it is for a very good cause. It would be nice to see the momentum pick up on it. It will happen, I have no doubt.”
The Terry Fox Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador was ecstatic to hear of the rebirth of the event in Grand Falls-Windsor, and the fact that the group plans to continue the event.
“That is music to my ears,” said Heather Strong, provincial director of the Terry Fox Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. “The idea that a place positioned on the highway that he (Terry Fox) actually stepped foot on, wouldn’t be hosting a run was just disappointing,” Strong said. “So we’re just delighted and thrilled to have the G.I.R.L. Run Club step forward and host something.”
She said the foundation want to make sure people create an experience and an atmosphere where they’re inspired and want to keep it going.
“The purpose of the foundation is not to go into big metropolises and put off big events, but to stay true to Terry’s wish, which was to give everyone the opportunity to participate,” Strong said. “So we’re delighted to have as many communities as possible on board.”
There were 42 runs across the province, and 767 across the country this year, she said, and with 84 cents of every dollar raised going to cancer research, the foundation is able to stretch a small amount of money along way.
“It’s a whole generation of supporters that weren’t alive when Terry did his run,” Strong said. “This is a new generation of the legacy.”
The Terry Fox Run was the last hurrah for the G.I.R.L. Run Club, which was piloted this year in Grand Falls-Windsor for grades 6-9. The 5 km run was something they were all building towards for the 11-weeks of the program, Nichols said
“It was so emotional for me actually to see them all cross the finish line, not just the girls, but also the leaders,” Nichols said.
The participants all waited at the finish line for everyone else to complete the run, and cheered each other on.
One leader in particular, Nichols said, knew she would be the last to finish the run. “When we saw her come around the bend, all the girls ran back and ran with her across the finish line,” Nichols said. “She was in tears when she got there. It was really sweet. It was a big day for the girls and the leaders.”
Nichols said it was a huge commitment for the leaders, and she sends huge thanks to all them all.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it by myself,” she said.
Janelle Caravan, an 11-year-old participant, said she wasn’t a runner before joining the program this summer, however it was as excellent program and she plans to continue with it.
“My mom saw it somewhere and she thought it may be fun, and I wanted to join,” Janelle said. “It was really fun. We got to meet a lot of new people and we just had a lot of fun. We talked during our runs and we kept motivating each other.”