Determination goes a long way for Terry Fox brothers

Rain or cold, they will complete the Terry Fox Run. Two inseparable brothers, Sandy Stalker, 78, and George Walsh, 73, are ready to complete a 5-kilometre walk from the Sorting Gap Marina to Seven Oaks and back to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation Sunday afternoon.

“We’ve done the Terry Fox Run every year since 1980,” Stalker said. “We’ve been at it and competed in it every year. This will be our 41st.”

Stalker said their late mother, Norah Walsh, was very taken with Terry Fox’s effort, what he was trying to do and how humble he was about it. Their mother started the Terry Fox tradition. Her contagious spirit spread to the rest of the family as well, Stalker said, adding that it hits close to home.

“George is quadriplegic. He’s got cerebral palsy and he’s wheelchair bound,” Stalker said. “Every minute of his life, he’s either spent in bed lying down or sitting in a wheelchair. And he’s been right into Terry Fox and has been from the beginning with my mother. That’s where he will be remembered for having made a contribution.”

The siblings have done triathlons and participated in different cycling events. Stalker said this is Walsh’s way of making contributions because he is unable to get out and do things like everybody else.

Up until last year, Stalker used to train for the run and he often ran in Thunder Bay. However, due to health reasons, this will be the first year Stalker walks the Marathon of Hope.

“My ankle has to be replaced, but it’s quite bittersweet,” Stalker said. “We’ll be there. But we’ll never be able to run it again. There’s nothing to it, but to do it. It’s a really easy event to get into. It’s not a competitive event as such. You can walk it, run it or cycle it.”

Stalker said because of Terry Fox’s determination and the money he raised that went into cancer research, the cancer that killed Terry Fox is 100 per cent curable now.

“Everybody that I know, at one point in time, had cancer touch their lives. And it’s funny the number of people that haven’t really paid a whole lot of attention to it. In our experience when cancer suddenly touches people’s lives how passionate they become about it,” Stalker said.

“It’s a shame that so many people have to have tragedy touch their lives before they realize that they can do something about it to make life easier for their people who have passed away and and for others who may go through the same thing that they went through and you might be able to help them get through a little easier.”

The total mileage that Stalker and Walsh put into running the Marathon of Hope would only equal one week of Terry Fox’s run. Terry Fox would run 26 miles everyday, with one day off in six months.

Their walk will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. and Fort Frances residents are encouraged to attend by walking, running or biking to show their support and raise awareness.

“You can go out for a good walk and you can contribute to the betterment of somebody else’s lives or maybe even your own if you’re being touched by cancer,” Stalker said. “People can get involved and make a contribution. But not everybody gives her their life for it, like Terry Fox did.”

Like last year, this year’s event is virtual – participants are asked to register online and run when and where they choose.

Brothers Stalker and Walsh began the Terry Fox run with their mother, more than 40 years ago. – File photo