BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN
Terry Fox once said that dreams are always possible if you try. Because the legendary Canadian hero followed his dream and ran the Marathon of Hope, he was able to earn $24.5 million for cancer research before he died of the disease in 1981.
The same spirit exists among College Notre Dame students, who have raised over $400,000 for cancer research since 1988, says Northern Cancer Research Foundation (NCRF) founding chair Gerry Lougheed Jr., who addressed an assembly at the school Wednesday morning.
The 800 students will blitz Sudbury-area neighbourhoods for donations on the evening of Feb. 23. They hope to raise $40,000 through the blitz and other fundraisers.
As a reward for their efforts, Lougheed brought gold-foil-covered fudge medals to the school, which were distributed in classrooms after the assembly.
"I had the privilege to meet him (Terry Fox) over 25 years ago in Sudbury as he ran through Sudbury," said Lougheed.
"The challenge for each of us today is 'Do you share (Terry Fox's) vision of trying?' I suggest that in this school and in this community, that vision has been well shared by you as students and your predecessors."
Fox didn't think he was anybody special because a lot of people get cancer, Lougheed said. The young man simply wanted to inspire other people to do something to stop the disease.
Notre Dame student and blitz organizer Nicholas Landry says he devotes himself to raising money for cancer research because he wants to help find a cure to the disease.
"My family hasn't been touched by cancer, but I know that I wouldn't want my family to be touched. Personally this is for the future so that we can find a cure for cancer," he says.
"I just tell other students that participating in the blitz is not hard, and they can do it. If we put ourselves together, we can do this."
During the assembly, Lougheed also told the story of Marc Robert, who attended College Notre Dame during the early 1990s.
Robert had a rare form of cancer, and needed experimental stem cell therapy.
But the local cancer centre, which had provided the treatment for 11 other patients, decided it was too costly to continue.
The student successfully campaigned to have all stem cell treatment, including his own, covered by OHIP. Robert's example inspired his peers to raise money for cancer research.
"This school started to invest in the research of stem cells because there was a student by the name of Marc Robert who went on television and radio and said 'I want everyone to remember my face, because without this experimental cancer research, I'm going to die'," said Lougheed.
"Unfortunately, he did die, but he didn't die of cancer. He died of an infection because his immune system was down. But do you know what his inspiration did? You started to raise money, and boy did you raise it well."