From Wikipedia, “The Terry Fox Run is an annual non-competitive charity event held in numerous regions around the world in commemoration of Canadian cancer activist Terry Fox, and his Marathon of Hope, and to raise money for cancer research.
The event was founded in 1981 by Isadore Sharp, who contacted Terry in-hospital by telegram and expressed his wishes to hold an annual run in Terry’s name to raise funds for cancer research.”
Like many cities around the world, our maximum city, Mumbai, also hosts this event every year. This year it was held on 27 Feb 2011 and I had the opportunity to participate for the very first time. The venue was the promenade by the sea at beautiful Marine Drive, 7 am in the morning, near about the Air-India building. The air was filled with children’s voices, voices of promise, promise towards a more aware future, a more sensitized future towards such causes. There were many children numbering close to 7000 representing various schools in and around the city of Mumbai. They were accompanied by their principals, teachers and eager parents as well. A special group of cancer survivors from the TATA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL (TMH), along with their caregivers, had come to display their unfazed will power in the fight against cancer, their tenacity masked by their beguiling smiles. A second group nonetheless special, from the Happy Home for the Blind had graced the occasion along with their caregivers and guides.
The Terry Fox Run everywhere is about awareness through participation and helping generate funds from concerned souls in the society and from organizations that have a softer side with their social responsibilities goals to meet. It has its antecedents tracing back to the proactive steps taken by Mr. Gul Kripalani, ex-chairman Indian Merchants Chambers, to make the Terry Fox run an annual and often well attended event in Mumbai. In fact, the statistics for this event in this year indicated that it was its most successful year since its inception in Mumbai thirteen years ago. The event had its list of celebrities and well known personalities giving the much needed publicity and push to the efforts including DGP Sivanandan, tennis star Leander Paes, event regular Rageshwari and Sabira Merchant of “What’s the Good Word” fame, prominent educationists and members of industrialist families (notably Rajashree Birla and our own Viji Venkatesh (Amma to all) with some of our TMF team members and FOM group members from Mumbai and Pune as well.
For the uninitiated, Viji Amma has been the Asia Coordinator for the International Union against Cancer (UICC) where she developed and led symposiums, workshops and learning programs. She was also instrumental in help setting up the Preventive Oncology Department at Tata Memorial Hospital in 1991, where she still contributes to the renowned institute as an active member of its Ethics Committee. With all these stellar efforts and more, Viji Amma is also one of the members of the convening committee of Terry Fox India.
Back to the event at the promenade, there were quick rounds of introductions, announcements and acknowledgements over a megaphone by Gul after which the march began by the special groups towards the Brabourne stadium. Needless to say, excited as ever, Viji Amma was omni-vocal without the megaphone! The children broke into a run and with some deft management provided by volunteers and Mumbai police, the children safely crossed the roads and into the Brabourne. Our FOM and TMF members formed a group on the ground where there was a podium setup for the rest of the events that were to unfold that morning. Soon, the microphone was put to good use by a principal to begin with trying to shout down the playful and noisy children in the stadium stands. Sabira Merchant began the proceedings with an acknowledgement to all present and a bit on the run itself. After the usual pleasantries were exchanged, began the announcements of the funds collected and the names of those who provided the same. The collection was a record 94 lakhs, best yet since the event started in Mumbai, and it was handed over to TMH representatives present there. The school children too were active in collecting funds before the event day and they did a good job in garnering a slice of the fund collection pie. Right in front of the podium, there were a few rows of chairs where survivors from TMH were seated along with their accompanying caregivers. A few goodies were distributed to this special group and efforts were taken to make them feel special on the occasion.
Earlier, before the speeches started, Rageshwari sung the National Anthem and everyone joined in chorus. Leander was cheered when introduced to the crowd. Later, Leander said a few words and along with he promised to take on the mantle of global ambassador for the Terry Fox Mumbai event. The FOM club was quietly attending these happenings with chatter among themselves, clicking pictures all around and grabbing the opportunity to pose with none other than Leander. Boman (Viji Amma’s friend from Chicago and now FOM friend too), Appa (Do we need an introduction here?) and I were busy missing these opportunities in one corner only to be met with guffaws on admitting the same. Overall, it was good informal fun and not once did anyone focus away from the core reason why everyone had gathered there on that Sunday morning. Kerul, Ayeshah, Sudha, Jay, Ashok Z, Pinakin, Neeraj, Pramod, Mini, David, Rhea, Sukanya, Sabyasachi, Bakul, Ravi, Suneeti, Yogiraj, Waman, Puneet, Suresh, Suranjan, Hosi, were all part of the event from our FOM group.
The Terry Fox run is usually a 2 part event, one is the run in the morning with larger participation and the second is a Fund Raiser Brunch at a hotel in the city. Some of us decided to go for the brunch and so had a couple of hours to bide until then. Charita and Kerul magnanimously invited us all for breakfast with tea to their home in the city. Bellyful and cheerful, the group bonded together and soon it was time to go for brunch at the Trident Oberoi. The Trident Oberoi is one of the landmarks in Mumbai city and has been providing its services free of cost to this cause every year. Besides the fare laid down for the lunch, the
highlights were the couple of songs sung by Rageshwari with the live band playing along, the lucky dip where both Sabysachi and Sukanya got lucky and the impromptu jive and waltz by a few to the numbers dished out by the live band. With the cause and the events through the day lingering in mind, one wondered if any effort was enough to sustain the efforts towards bettering the needs of such groups. But then there is always something to improve upon. Events over, we all headed to our respective destinations.
It was a good experience overall and some learning too besides the happiness of participating for the Terry Fox run. I would encourage all who read this article to try and participate and of course try to do that bit more to make the Terry Fox run in Mumbai an even more successful event in the coming years.
Reported by Manoj Panicker FOM Mumbai