Darrell Fox plans to take a long walk through the Chilliwack Corn Maze this Saturday.
He’ll begin at the entrance of the maze, and make his way past tall silky stalks and trivia sign posts. He’ll turn this way and that, navigating the pathways ahead.
There’s no way he’d miss out on the chance to walk this year’s maze, he said during a media and VIP tour of the Greendale farm this Wednesday.
After all, there’s a big motivator waiting for him in the centre of the maze — a likeness of his brother, Terry Fox.
“I’ve gotta go find him,” Fox said. “I’ve gotta go say hello.”
The Chilliwack Corn Maze is one of three mazes in Canada that are paying tribute to Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. This year marks the 35th anniversary of his amazing journey to bring about cancer awareness and funding for research. Since 1980, the Marathon of Hope has inspired $700 million in donations for cancer research, in Terry Fox’s name. He passed away in 1981, from bone cancer or osteogenic sarcoma.
In those days, nobody talked about cancer, Fox said on Wednesday.
“Reflecting back to 1980 we didn’t discuss cancer,” he said. “He never showed off his artificial leg because cancer was something you just didn’t discuss.”
He described seeing his brother complete 42 km on average each day, with one leg, as “witnessing a miracle.”
And that miracle has led to major strides in cancer research.
“When Terry was diagnosed in 1977, he was given a 20 to 30 per cent chance of living,” Fox said. “If he were to be diagnosed today, he would have an 80 per cent chance of living, and he probably wouldn’t have even lost his leg.”
We can’t change history, he said, but Terry’s legacy has changed lives. And the drive to cure all cancers must continue.
“Even though it’s been 35 years, it still hurts immensely,” Fox added.
So, this Saturday, Sept. 12, admission to the Chilliwack Corn Maze is by donation to the Terry Fox Foundation.
And Terry Fox is quite literally the centre attraction there this year. When the design was unveiled this week, everyone involved in the project came out to celebrate and enjoy flyovers in a helicopter.
The pathways of this year’s maze represent Canada, and a portion of the centre is wide open. From high above the maze, it looks as if a bold and determined Terry Fox is walking across Ontario.
The maze was planted in that design, walked out on foot according to a grid, and without the help of GPS.
John Bruinsma, owner, said that they lucked out with the crop, considering the intense heat and drought experienced here.
“We don’t irrigate so we just have to hope and pray it comes up,” he said.
Councillor Chris Kloot was on hand, and congratulated the maze owners for being among “the first local farmers to spearhead agritourism,” so many years ago.
This isn’t the first time a special milestone has been celebrated at the Chilliwack Corn Maze. The 150th anniversary of the RCMP and the 40th anniversary of the University of the Fraser Valley have both received star treatment in the past.
But there is another special component on site this year. They partnered with the senior drawing and painting class at GW Graham to include large wooden cut-outs for photo opportunities.
Students Michael Glyngsdal and Danielle Gemmell joined their teacher Rebecca Sagert at the farm on Wednesday, and they were congratulated on a job well done.
The project gave the students a chance to work with an outside client, to get feedback, and learn in a real-life situation not usually offered through usual class work, Sagert noted.
“It’s been a really exciting opportunity for them,” she said.
One of the pieces completed by the class is a painting of the Marathon of Hope van. Visitors can pop their heads through the driver’s seat window, or ride as passengers.
Although 35 years has passed, looking at the van brought back memories for Fox of the 5,000+ kilometres they traveled in 1980.
“I can’t believe two of us slept up there,” he says, pointing to the top of camperized van.
For Tourism Chilliwack’s executive director, Allison Colthorp, being a part of the partnership between the corn maze and the Terry Fox Foundation has been a meaningful experience.
In 1987, she worked as the B.C. school coordinator for the Fox Run, and while growing up in Fox’s home town of Port Coquitlam, she attended Terry Fox secondary.
“Today was extra special for me,” she said.
The Chilliwack Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm is located at 41905 Yale Rd. in Greendale, off Exit 109 on the highway. Admission (by donation) will also provide access to all the onsite activities including the giant jumping pillow, pedal carts, giant sandbox, hay bale maze, barnyard ball zone and, of course, the 10-acre maze.
To learn more, visit www.chilliwackcornmaze.com.
Related story: Chilliwack flies Terry Fox Run flag