Kevin and Ronnaug Evans are stepping up their involvement in this year’s Terry Fox Run.
The couple have volunteered with the North Vancouver portion of the run for the last decade and entered the co-ordinating roles, on behalf of the organizing North Vancouver Rotary Club, since longtime co-ordinator and Rotarian, Norman Thomson, decided to hang up his sneakers and pass the baton after last year’s run.
“This year we thought, let’s see what we can do to help co-ordinate it and it’s quite a job,” Kevin Evans tells the North Shore News, adding that life leading up to the Sept. 16 run has been: “busy, but it’s very satisfying.”
Like almost everyone, Kevin and Ronnaug have a personal connection with regard to this year’s run that fuels their passion for contributing in any way they can.
Their four-year-old grandson, Theo, was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a type of cancer, approximately 17 months ago.
“When you have something like a young child that goes through cancer and when you’re able to give back out of gratitude, it’s a real pleasure. As hard as we’re working, it’s a labour of love,” Evans says.
Last month, the family got some good news. After more than a year of treatment Theo was declared cancer-free.
“He’s now four and he’s going to be going back into daycare next month, so he’s starting hopefully to resume a normal life,” Evans says. “It’s so remarkable. The fact is, that probably would not have been the outcome just a few years ago and it’s because of the kind of cancer research into treatment that Theo has a good outcome and a promising future.”
It’s because of cases like his grandson’s, and the great support he received at BC Children’s Hospital, that Evans is such a vocal proponent of the Terry Fox Run, noting that the North Van run had approximately 150 participants last year and they’re hoping for more than 200 participants this year, rain or shine.
“With respect to the Terry Fox Foundation, they have since 1981 raised literally hundreds of millions of dollars and every one of those dollars go towards funding for innovative cancer research,” Evans says. “You put those two forces together and we’re just so, so fortunate.”
The North Vancouver Terry Fox Run has been running for 19 years, with the rotary club organizing it for the past 15, according to Evans.
The North Van run has raised more than $187,000 to date, he notes, adding that he and Ronnaug’s goal is to grow the run, not just in terms of dollars raised, but by getting more people involved in the run, either as participants or as volunteers.
When reflecting on grandson Theo’s journey with cancer, Evans reflects that the survival rate for childhood cancer is high in Canada – and drastically higher than it was 30 to 40 years ago – but the goal of the run, ultimately, is to one day make cancer a disease of the past.
“It’s not inconceivable that a day is not that far around the corner when we think about childhood cancer like we once thought about child polio,” he says.
Asked what his favourite part of the North Van run is year after year, he says it’s the start. “You’ve got all those people who are setting off all at once. It’s very emotional.”
The North Vancouver Terry Fox Run is taking place Sunday, Sept. 16 at Inter River Park (1301 Lillooet Rd.) with registration opening at 9 a.m. The run begins at 10 a.m.
The West Vancouver Terry Fox Run also takes place this Sunday at Dundarave Park (enter at Marine Drive and 25th Street) with registration at 9 a.m. and the run commencing at 10 a.m.
Visit terryfox.org/run/find-a-run-site and select the North Vancouver or West Vancouver run sites for more information.