For 26 years, people in our region have joined forces to raise money for cancer research through the example of Terry Fox. Bangor Maine’s Terry Fox Run/Run for Hope, a 5-kilometer road race sponsored by the Best Western White House Inn, has a long colorful history.
The race was born in May 1982 as the Terry Fox Run. Terry Fox was the Canadian athlete who, after losing a leg to cancer, attempted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Fox ran on one good leg and an artificial leg to complete 3,339 miles before being struck down with cancer a second time. He died in 1981, one month shy of his 23rd birthday, but he realized his dream of raising $25 million dollars for cancer research. Bangor runner, Ed Rice, started the event because of his desire and passion to carry on the Terry Fox name and to raise money for cancer.
The annual event had several different sponsors from 1982 to 1993 and played host to many very special guests including Bill Rogers, 4-time winner of the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon, Joan Benoit Samuelson, 1984 US Olympic Marathon Gold Medal winner, Stephen King and many others. In 1987, Mrs. Betty Fox, Terry’s mother, made a special appearance at the run. It was the first time she had appeared at a tribute run for her son outside of her native Vancouver.
In 1993, the run was without a sponsor and was not held. Ed Rice, the event’s founder, made one more effort to find a sponsor. On June 25, 1994, Rice did a 50-mile run from Bar Harbor to Bangor, Maine to promote interest in reviving the annual event. Danny and Carla Lafayette, owners of the Best Western White House Inn stepped up to sponsor the run. (Danny Lafayette even ran a few miles with Rice during his 50-mile run).
1994 marked a new generation of support when the Best Western White House Inn took over sponsorship of the race. For the 12 years of Best Western sponsorship funding from the run has raised money for cancer. The money raised has been used locally to support cancer prevention studies or clinical trials at Eastern Maine Medical Hospital, helping people who could not have otherwise participated in the studies.
In 2003, the name was changed from the Terry Fox Run to the Run for Hope, but we have continued the strong tradition of Bangor’s Terry Fox Run. The Run for Hope serves as a tribute to the courage of our local friends who face cancer. To honor Terry Fox and his dream of beating cancer, each year the Run for Hope presents the Terry Fox Award to a participant who exemplifies the ideals and spirit of Terry Fox.
Each year, the event sets out to break old fundraising records. For 10 consecutive years, the annual donation has grown. In 2009, the Run for Hope raised $26,000.00, making the total amount raised since 1994 in excess of $191,500.00.
The 3.1-mile race starts and finishes at the Best Western White House Inn. There are nine age group categories for men and women, door prizes, t-shirts are available for purchase, awards are given for youngest and oldest finishers, food and refreshments are served and we try to have an award for every kid who participates. Incidentally, the oldest finisher in 2004 was 87 and the youngest was 4.
We hope that the money raised by the Run for Hope may someday fund a miracle – a cure for cancer. Terry Fox said, “We need your help, the people in cancer clinics all over the world need people who believe in miracles.”