Participants at the Terry Fox Run in Dubai today. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Thousands of runners of all ages, abilities and various nationalities joined ‘Terry Fox Run’, a fun run and popular cancer research event that weaved its way through various world pavilions and plazas at Expo 2020 Dubai early in the morning today. The run started and ended at Jubilee Park, just beside the Canada Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Spirits were high and the mood was friendly and welcoming. Braving the cold morning, participants — who mostly came dressed in orange and blue — ran, jogged and speed-walked to show their support and help raise funds for the charity family fun, which is recognised around the world for its continued contribution to cancer research for more than four decades.

Sinan Ahmed, 16, a grade 11 student who volunteered for the event, told Gulf News: “I participated for the Terry Fox Run as a volunteer so that I could help around with the community and support cancer research. I feel honoured to be part of such a big event being held for a noble cause."

"Hearing about Terry Fox’s story motivated me to take part in this event and to also help with the cancer research. It was a wonderful experience and we had a good run passing by beautiful pavilions at the Expo,” added Ammar Ahmed, a Sports Management student from Canada.

Raising funds for cancer

‘Terry Fox Run’ takes its name from a young Canadian university student who lost a leg to cancer. Wanting to give hope to cancer patients, the amputee athlete ran 5,373km, close to a marathon, every day for 143 days to raise funds for cancer research. When he had to stop running after a cancer relapse, millions of people around the world decided to continue his quest by taking part in the Terry Fox Run that turned into an annual event in 33 countries across five continents.

In Dubai, the very first ‘Terry Fox Run’ happened in 1994, under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, and Chairperson of Al Jalila Foundation.

Since the first Dubai Terry Fox Run in 1994, the foundation has raised more than Dh8 million for cancer research projects in the UAE.

Health and Wellness Week

The 3km and 5km non-competitive family fun run also served as the closing event of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Health and Wellness Week. Organised by Canadian Business Council Dubai and hosted by Expo to support Al Jalila Foundation, it likewise part of this year commemoration of World Cancer Day (on February 4), an annual initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), aimed at raising awareness on the need to close the care gap and putting a “spotlight on the need for collective action against one of medicine’s toughest challenges”.

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Collective action

Prior to the event, Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Managing Director of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The Terry Fox Run at Expo 2020 Dubai is held in support of World Cancer Day and aims to inspire collective action against what remains a leading cause of death worldwide. While cancer does not discriminate, treating it remains a challenging and difficult journey for so many. The UAE remains committed to advancing medical research and innovation to improve quality of life for all and we are grateful to the Terry Fox Foundation for contributing to this important research.”

Terry end
Terry Fox Run participants at the finishing point in Expo 2020 Dubai on Saturday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

‘Truly grateful’

“Today’s historic Dubai ‘Terry Fox Run’ demonstrated the commitment of the UAE and its community in contributing to cancer research that could save generations in the future. We are truly grateful for the support and enthusiasm by all those who walked, ran, organised, assisted and entertained today, and of course, for the generous donations to cancer research,” said Ara Sahakian, former executive director and volunteer consultant to the Terry Fox Foundation.

Professor Frank Branicki from UAE University added: “We have been working with researchers funded by Canada’s Terry Fox Foundation since 2013 to advance cancer research in the UAE. More than Dh8 million has been raised and funded for various UAE cancer research projects to date.”

Organisers said those who would like donate to the cause can do so by checking the online registration page for the event.