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Hay’s commitment to the Terry Fox Foundation became even more compelling after he was stricken with cancer himself a few years ago.

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After a two-year absence due to the pandemic, the annual Raise a Club Against Cancer golf tournament was held last week at Atlantide Golf Club on Île-Perrot.

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The tournament serves as a fundraiser for the Terry Fox Foundation and this year’s event raised nearly $27,000 for the cause. Darrell Fox, Terry’s younger brother, and Lori Graham of CTV Montreal were special guests at this year’s tournament, which attracted 140 golfers.

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Organizer Les Hay, who’s been raising funds for the Terry Fox Foundation through bottle drives and other endeavours for more than four decades, was overwhelmed with the support he received again this year. His 43-year fundraising total now stands at a whopping $530,983.

Darrell Fox praised Hay and others for keeping the dream of his brother alive by raising money for cancer research.

But Hay, a cancer survivor who turns 76 in November, signalled this may be his last official golf fundraiser.

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“I’m getting too old for this,” said Hay, a longtime West Islander who now resides in Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Hay said his tournament has always been about getting personal contributions. “I don’t go after people to give me thousands of dollars, or go corporate. I just ask people to give what you can, give something.”

Hay’s commitment to the Terry Fox Foundation became even more compelling after he was stricken with cancer himself a few years ago. His own battle with cancer helped strengthen his resolve to continue his work on behalf of the foundation.

Then this past April, Hay was left devastated after his wife Linda Jetté succumbed to brain cancer. “I still haven’t gotten over it,” he said.

Hay never got to see Terry Fox in person during his heroic 1980 Marathon of Hope run for cancer research. The epic cross-Canada run came to a heartbreaking end after Fox was stricken with lung cancer near Thunder Bay, Ont. He died in 1981 at age 22.

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Like millions of Canadians touched by Fox’s heroic effort, Hay felt compelled to do his part to help find a cure for cancer after Fox passed away.

“The whole Fox family has been great in helping keep Terry’s dream alive,” Hay said. “They go to schools, banquets and golf tournaments. They’re the ones keeping this going. If you don’t motivate people, it will dwindle.”

“They keep encouraging and keeping the Terry Fox name going.  I commend them highly.”

Over the years, both of Terry’s brothers – Fred and Darrell  – have attended Hay’s golf tournament. Hay also met Terry’s late mother Betty on several occasions at past fundraisers in the Montreal area.

At public speaking engagements, both Darrell and Fred Fox often remind today’s generation of students that their brother was a typical Canadian kid who loved sports.

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“One of the first things I try to tell students is that they are just like Terry,” Fred Fox said during a visit to West Island high school a decade ago.  “He was just an average Canadian kid from the suburbs. He had the same dreams as everyone else, which is why his story resonates so well with the kids today.”

“He wasn’t the biggest or smartest kid in class, but Terry knew he had to work a little harder than the rest,” Fred added.

“His Grade 5 report card had a couple of Cs, a couple of C minuses and a C plus. He had average working habits, but Terry worked to become a better student.”

Terry’s grades eventually improved and he was voted top athlete in his senior year of high school.

Hays says he will never stop fundraising in one way or another to pay tribute to Terry Fox.

“I still can’t get over the fact he ran a 26-mile marathon for 143 consecutive days with one leg. It’s mind boggling.”

jmeagher@postmedia.com

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