The difference a dollar makes

In 1980 when Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope, his request was very modest

Dear Editor;

In 1980 when Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope, his request was very modest – “He asked for $1 from each of us; a simple request but one that provides us with direction and path that we follow today.”(Terry Fox Foundation website – “Policies and Guidelines”)

If everyone in Ponoka gave $1 to the Terry Fox Foundation, as Terry himself originally wanted, I would not have a problem with the run or its promotion.  To me, this would be a proportionate sum of money.  However, I feel very uneasy when $20,000 or more leaves a small town like Ponoka.

I believe the focus on Terry is disproportionate. Are there ever equivalent fundraising events by the same group of people for related needs that are actually in Ponoka?  For instance, the palliative care unit at the hospital.  Here we have people who actually live in our community who need 24-7 services and comfort.  The Fox Foundation research results are far down the road.  But the people who are here in town, are struggling to afford the trip to Edmonton for cancer treatment or gradually passing away in the palliative care unit or at home with terminal cancer. They do not get equivalent support from the community. 

Terry’s original simple request of a dollar got multiplied when the Fox Foundation became a charitable organization. The minimum donation for a tax receipt became $20.  Consequently, the funds raised grew rapidly and exponentially.  The Fox Foundation does not permit a ‘split donation’ event where half could go to the local palliative care unit and half to them.  They want it all or you can’t call your event a Terry Fox Run.

Terry never asked that he be glorified as he is today in schools.  He himself said, “I was not going to let myself be used.  There was only one thing I wanted to publicize and that was fundraising for cancer research.” In fact, in the Mission statement of the Foundation it says that “Terry was not interested in fame and glory when he embarked on his Marathon of Hope in 1980.” We are acting against Terry’s own wishes by glorifying him!

The most powerful impact your charitable dollars can have is right here at home, in your community.  We must reinforce the traditional strength of community in our children. Events like the very first Ponoka Stampede were fundraisers to help this community.

The Fox Foundation has a multi-million dollar advertising budget to motivate people.  It makes me cry when I see that a local bake sale has raised a paltry $1,000 or so for a local needy association – yet thousands of dollars leave Ponoka for the Fox Foundation. His modest dream was just a $1 dollar from everyone, once a year.

If we really want to make a difference in the world, charity begins at home, in this community.  If you give for the Fox Run, give an equal amount to a cause here.

Michelle Stirling


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