An estimated 1,200 Manitobans, many of their lives touched too closely by cancer, marched to continue Terry Fox’s legacy Sunday morning.
The streets of Assiniboine Park were filled with dozens of red shirts declaring support for Team Mark, celebrating the life of Mark Adkins, who died last year of pancreatic cancer.
"He was an avid runner, he ran lots of marathons," said brother Matthew Adkins. Mark, a lawyer, had moved to New York with his wife and two children, but continued participating in the Terry Fox Run every year through Central Park.
"Mark had a real zeal and lust for life, a larger-than-life personality. So one of the things we did to honour him is to create Team Mark," he said.
Mark died during the Winnipeg Jets’ 2018 playoff run, and his family formed Team Mark soon after — participating in last year’s Winnipeg Terry Fox Run after raising $40,000, then heading to run again in New York after raising US$40,000.
"Last year, we were close to $100,000. This year, we’ve raised close to $20,000 here in Winnipeg and we’re hoping to achieve a similar amount in New York as well," he said.
That’s a huge chunk of the $99,000 Winnipeg run organizer Kim Walker is aiming for.
"We are $99,913 shy of a million dollars raised from this site, historically," Walker said. "So that’s my goal. Last year we raised just under $86,000 so I don’t see why we can’t do it."
Donations are accepted online all year.
She didn’t have a final attendance number but said it’s much more than last year.
"Next year is our 40th, so we’re really hoping we can have a great turnout next year," Walker said. The run is always held on the third Sunday in September.
Cam Irving lost a brother to cancer and in May, lost a leg to peripheral arterial disease. Sunday was his first time at a Terry Fox Run.
He said throughout his time in hospital, he was inspired by the hope of fellow patients.
"Didn’t change their optimism one bit, it was the most amazing thing. Nobody’s having a pity party, they’re all positive — it’s surprising, the human spirit, eh?" Irving said.
Participating in the Terry Fox Run every year was very important for Mark, said his mother Nancy Adkins.
"We did it last year, and invited all our friends and got shirts, and they all came back this year," she said. "It’s wonderful to be here, to raise money for research and to have the support as well. It’s a wonderful time to get together and reminisce."
Mark’s wife and children still live in New York and will run there again along with some Adkins family members.
The Adkins family plans to keep coming back and celebrating Mark’s life and raising money for cancer research for years to come.
"Mark was very much a live-in-the-moment type guy, so to sit and dwell — we certainly have those moments of family time and introspection, but this is more about being out there and doing something together, for a great cause," Matthew Adkins said.
"So it’s not hard at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s quite enjoyable."
Updated on Monday, September 16, 2019 at 12:04 AM CDT: Edited