Abu Dhabi More than 10,000 people, some on roller-blades and bicycles and some pushing babies in prams, but most simply on foot, took part in the Terry Fox Run on Friday morning.
According to the run's organisers, participation from people wanting to contribute their efforts to those with special needs was so great that they ran out of stickers.
"In the 13 years I have taken part in the Terry Fox committee, I have not seen such a large number of enthusiastic volunteers. Last year we managed to collect Dh400,250 in donations and I think this year we may double that amount," said Farid Dabaghi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Terry Fox Run.
First to cross the finish line was British expat Catherine Parkins, a former physical education teacher and new mother. She completed the run in less than 30 minutes. "I am delighted to have finished first. This is a great event. I just moved here and this is the first time I have taken part in the Terry Fox Run," said Catherine. "I plan to take part in the next one. It's a great way to encourage people to stay fit, healthy and raise money for a good cause," she added.
At 10am, participants gathered in the parking lot behind the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort to start the run, which went down to Khaleej Al Arabi Road and back.
Some people brought their dogs, and a majority of participants walked briskly rather than ran.
A band called Crazy Chester kept the crowd entertained. Trish Syme, from Canada, whose husband plays lead guitar with the band, said she considers Terry Fox a Canadian hero. She has been taking part in the run for the past 22 years.
Touched by cancer
Martin Bradley, a senior navigation engineer with Etihad Airways who took part with his wife and 18-month-old daughter, said he had relatives who had died of cancer. "I heard about the Terry Fox Run through friends. I believe he ran about 42 kilometres every day for cancer research. It encourages the world to follow his steps."
Vijay Subramaniam has been participating in the run for the past seven years and is part of the organising committee. "I keep witnessing an increasing number of participants each year. It's a fantastic way of getting people from different cultures together. This run has become a phenomenon in the UAE and all over the world."
Maysara Al Gebori and her two young daughters, Tania and Reema, have run in four Terry Fox runs in Canada. "I had a sister, an uncle and a good friend of mine who passed away from cancer. My friend left behind a child as young as my girls. That's why I encourage them to take part and help cancer victims all over the world."
Delores Ferrel has been taking part in the Terry Fox Run for the past 15 years. "I don't walk; I jog and help encourage everyone to take part. This is a tribute to the amazing work achieved by Terrence Fox when he was diagnosed with cancer and I will keep on running each year as a token of respect."
Friederike Nobiling, from Germany, decided to roller-blade the run, along with 200 employees from her company. She learnt about the run from her colleagues and is amazed at the number of people taking part.
Marco Casirati, from Italy, decided to walk as a sign of appreciation. He particularly enjoyed the mix of cultures gathered in one place for a positive purpose.
Bronwyn and Robin Haffner, ages 16 and 18, from South Africa, decided to bring their two dogs along for the jog. This is their second time.
"I am going to college in South Africa next year and hope they have the Terry Fox Run there too because I plan to continue taking part in donating to cancer research," said Robin, who is currently studying at Cambridge High School.
The Dubai Terry Fox Run takes place in Al Mamzar Park on February 15.