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Devoted dad honours his daughter by participating in Moncton’s Terry Fox Run

Doug Patterson has taken part in the Terry Fox Run for the last 43 years, but this year hits close to home.

“It’s all… it’s all for Heather,” he said.

This year Patterson is walking for his daughter who passed away from cancer on March 4, 2023 at just 59-years old.

“First of all, Heather was a survivor of cancer, breast cancer, twice,” he said.

“The second time around she didn’t even loose her hair and she was still able to work and she chalked it up to all the research that’s been done and the money we’ve raised through the Terry Fox Run.”

Normally, Patterson brings in about $5,000 for the foundation each year. He says he’s managed to raise around $8,000 this year, because of Heather.

While this year’s walk is lovingly dedicated to his daughter, Patterson says the annual event has held a special place in his heart since its inception.

“A friend of mine lost his 11-year-old son to cancer and I did the run in his memory first and, believe it or not, 26 years later, I had to do it for his father, Walter Downing. So I’ve been doing it ever since for somebody,” he said.

In this undated photo, Terry Fox is pictured running across Canada to raise money for cancer research (CANADIAN PRESS)

It’s now been 43 years since Terry Fox left his mark across Canada – a movement that hasn’t waivered throughout the years.

“Terry is with us. He’s guiding us all the time,” said Fred Fox, Terry’s older brother.

“Terry, when he was running across Canada, would often say we’ll all be touched by cancer in one way or another. Maybe not personally, but a family member, a friend, someone we know in the neighborhood, and that’s why it’s important to continue today what Terry started.”

Fox says the family had no way of knowing how big of an impact Terry would have or how long it would last, but his dream is still just as important today.

“To hear the stories of my mom or my son is alive today because of cancer research, because of what Terry did in 1980, to hear those personally and from individuals means so much,” said Fox.

Fred Fox joins Doug Patterson and his family in Moncton for the Terry Fox Run.

On Thursday morning, Fox walked alongside Patterson before making his way to Saint John to continue sharing Terry’s message.

The brothers were only 14 months apart in age and Fox says they did everything together.

“I refer to Terry in many things that I do and I say, when I go to schools that he never gets older. He’s still that 21, 22-year-old kid that was running across Canada. He doesn’t get older. Kids can relate to him. When we watch a video and hear Terry speak, he’s still guiding us along,” said Fox.

To this day, Terry’s legacy continues to connect Canadians every year.

“It’s a little hard to do because last year… Heather was with me and she’s with me this year,” said Patterson.

“Her name is on the back of this t-shirt and I know she’s smiling.”

Family members showed up to support Doug Patterson as he dedicated this year's Terry Fox Run to his daughter Heather.

In a show of support, Patterson had family members from Nova Scotia who surprised him Thursday morning and his granddaughter, Heather’s daughter, was walking alongside him.

“Hopefully with all this money, eventually, we’ll find a cure and we’ve got to keep Terry’s dream of finding a cure… we’ve got to keep it alive,” he said.

“As long as I can walk, I’ll be here.”

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