There are a lot of people I could walk for, people I do remember, during cancer fundraising walks and relays. With each step, my thoughts drift to them and pull up memories and mourn for moments lost.
There was my aunt Sally. My own grandfather, Bill. My children’s grandfather, Billy.
I could also walk for those in my family who have survived cancer, and those who are fighting it right this very moment. And I have in the past. But when invited to join in the Silver Fox Block Walk with the Hampton House residents last Friday, the name on my mind was Lilee-Jean.
Never has a little girl claimed such a large piece of my heart, which is almost ridiculous since I barely had met her. But like many others, thousands of others, I followed her story closely through the very open and honest online writings of her parents.
Her light shone especially bright, somehow. But cancer has snatched away so many of our loved ones, and that reality hit home while spending the morning with some of the community’s most elderly residents.
One by one, the Hampton House residents named who they were walking for this year.
“My cousin Ruth.”
“My aunt Mable.”
“My sister Lilian.”
“My wife, Moreen.”
It’s hard not to shed a tear at the magnitude of loss in one room.
Some of the grief is fresh, while for others the pain has subsided.
This was the fifth year the Hampton House has rallied its residents to get out and walk the block, to remember their loved ones and pay tribute to Terry Fox. They each fundraise and put in the effort to be a part of the walk, even those who use walkers, or who may need a hand to hold. Hampton’s lifestyle coordinator Tracy McDonald keeps their spirits up along the route, chatting with residents along the way, and even breaking out into song with them.
Each year, they carry the names of their loved ones on stickers on their chests. And each year, they hope they don’t have to add any more to the list.
Residents will be collecting donations from friends and family on behalf of the Terry Fox Foundation until the day of the official community run on Sept. 20. That run gets underway at 9 a.m. at the Landing Sports Complex on Spadina, with registration opening at 7:30 a.m.
This year, organizers are hoping to raise $20,000.
For more information, visit www.terryfox.ca.