Organizers behind the Terry Fox Run say the annual event has seen a 20 per cent increase in fundraising this year even though it was held virtually for the first time in four decades.

More than 80,000 people participated virtually in the run this year, said Martha McClew, a spokeswoman for the Terry Fox Foundation. Participants registered for the event and went on their own runs.

Donations are still coming in as people continue to register to fundraise even though the official event is already over, she said.

"We didn't expect anything like those numbers to come out on a day where there was actually really nowhere to go, except to walk out your front door and do it around the block," she said.

With the event held online this year, McClew said it may have given people flexibility that they did not have before.

She said a lot of people told organizers that it was their first time registering for the run.

More people also connected this year with other participants through the event's Facebook group and app, she said.

"It was much more local in the past. (This year) they didn't have their community that they can connect with. And I think it was really very fitting because to me, Terry connected us as a country and this Terry Fox run did the same thing for people," said McClew.

Still, McClew said she hopes this year's run will be the first and last held online.

The Terry Fox Foundation is planning to hold its school run on Wednesday, with 3.7 million students from 9,000 schools across the country registered to participate.

"I think Canadians sort of thought to themselves, well, Terry Fox ran 143 days by himself. And I think they really felt like we could do that too," said McClew.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 29, 2020.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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