Sun, 22 Oct 2000

Run, help cancer patients and win free tickets to Singapore

By Maria Kegel

JAKARTA (JP): Twenty years ago, a courageous young man with only one leg set out to help cancer patients by running across the second largest country in the world. Sadly, he did not finish his journey.

Instead, the disease that Terry Fox, 22, was hoping to raise funds to find a cure for stopped him from realizing his dream of crossing Canada on foot.

Cancer, which took his right leg three years earlier, had spread to his lungs, forcing him to abort his Marathon of Hope, the poignant name given to his run.

By that point, he was outside Thunder Bay, Ontario, and had traveled 5,373 kilometers, running an average of 42 kilometers a day for 143 days through heat, rain, wind and cold. The route Terry planned, from the east coast of Canada to the west, was over 10,000 kilometers, almost equal to the distance between Aceh and Irian Jaya.

He had trained for 18 months for the marathon, building up his strength and learning to run on his new artificial leg.

But his real challenge started in 1977 when he was diagnosed with bone cancer and was told his leg would be amputated six inches above the knee.

The suffering of the other cancer patients he met during his treatment haunted him, making him realize that a cure for this dreaded disease would be the only way to rid patients' of their immense despair and pain. Fox decided then to undertake the marathon.

"I guess one of the most important things I've learned is that nothing is ever completely bad. Even cancer. It has made me a better person. It has given me a purpose I never had before," Fox said during his run in 1980.

He lost his personal battle with the disease 10 months after he was forced to stop running, dying on June 28, 1981. But by no means was his marathon a failure.

In an outpouring of emotion, communities, schools and corporations across the country joined together to participate in a run commemorating his Marathon of Hope, and the spirit of this cause lives today around the world.

The Terry Fox Run is held in 5,000 locations in 58 countries, including South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh. Participants of all ages walk or run planned routes of 5 km or 10 km to raise money for cancer research.

In Jakarta, the Regent Hotel has for the past five years organized the run in collaboration with the Indonesian Cancer Foundation, the Indonesian Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Embassy and the Canadian Women's Association, with this year's event set for Sunday, Nov. 5.

Virginia Margaretha from the Regent Hotel Jakarta said organizers hoped the sixth annual Terry Fox Run here would raise Rp 150 million for the cancer foundation's research programs and attract 1,500 participants, the same as in 1999.

"Our target is 1,000 (participants), but we would sure like to have the same amount of people as last year, which was the highest turnout since we started organizing it here," she said, adding that about 600 participants had registered at the hotel so far.

"The run, although a fund-raising event to help cancer research, is also an opportunity for us to raise awareness about the danger of cancer, the unfortunate people suffering from it, as well as the importance of healthy living," she said.

The Rp 30,000 entry fee, which entitles participants to a free T-shirt, goes directly to the cancer foundation, as do any individual or corporate donations.

Everyone is encouraged to come out for the event, and Virginia stressed that it was a "fun run", meaning participants could jog, walk or, as children have done in the past, roller blade or ride a bike over the route.

"We also invite the disabled to use their wheelchairs in the event," she said.

Participants will start at the Regent at 7 a.m. and proceed to Jl. Sudirman, where they will head south to Atma Jaya University if they choose the 5-km route, or to the Pemuda statue for the 10-km route, before returning to the Regent.

It takes approximately one hour to run the 5-km route, or two hours if you walk it, Virginia said.

"Running along Jl. Sudirman, which will be closed off, is the safest street (in Jakarta). Policemen will also be standing by," she said.

Everyone finishing the race will be given a certificate saying they participated in the Terry Fox Run 2000, and they will be provided with a free breakfast of pastries and milk, donated by the suppliers.

"When all participants are finished, we'll gather around the stage near the start area, where emcee Deddy Corbuzier will announce the total amount collected that day and hand out some door prizes," Virginia said.

The grand prize is two round-trip tickets to Singapore with a two-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel.

There are also hotel vouchers from the Grand Hyatt, Aryaduta and Atlet Century Hotels which can be used either for weekend stays or for meals.

"Last year we had a soccer ball giveaway, where we tossed 10 balls out into the crowd and everyone scrambled to get them. It was a lot of fun, and perhaps we will do that again."

Virginia said if any businesses wished to donate prizes "it would be appreciated".

Participants can preregister at either the cancer foundation or the Regent health club, or they can register on the day of the run starting at 5:30 a.m.

But Virginia warned that the registration table would be busy on the day of the event.

"Last year, 300 people showed up at the last minute to register," she said.