Letnick

Norm Letnick, left, the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country, is organizing this year's Terry Fox Run in Kelowna, on Sept. 19. Letnick is shown here with Calum Middleton and Melanie Letnick at a past run in Kelowna.

Kelowna's Terry Fox Run will go over the million-dollar mark on Norm Letnick's watch.

The new local organizer of the long-running fundraiser says achievement of that milestone is testament to generations of Kelowna residents in supporting cancer research.

"It really goes to show the generosity of the people of the Central Okanagan," Letnick, Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country, said Wednesday.

For the second year, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no large-scale Terry Fox Run in Kelowna. In the past, hundreds of people have turned out each September at Mission Recreation Park to run, walk, or cycle together.

Again this year, people are asked to participate Sept. 19 wherever they like, alone or in small groups, and log their fundraising details onto TerryFox.ca

By one measurement, the very first Terry Fox Run anywhere in the world might have been in Kelowna.

On Sept. 13, 1980, less than two weeks after a recurrence of cancer forced the 21-year-old, one-legged Fox to quit his bid to run across Canada, students at Okanagan Mission Secondary held a run in his name that raised $3,200, former OKM principal Bernie Monteleone recalled in a 2014 interview.

That event, however, is not included in the Terry Fox Foundation's list of Kelowna runs. The first official Kelowna run, they say, was in 1985. Since then, a total of $990,788 has been raised just by Terry Fox Run participants in Kelowna.

Last year's Kelowna run raised $35,000, so it's a near-certainty this year's event will push the total fundraising over $1 million.

Letnick, who a number of years ago started a Terry Fox Run in Lake Country, says he hopes to helm the Kelowna run for the foreseeable future.

"But I look forward to organizing a real run, with everybody gathered together again," Letnick said. "I think everyone is just tired and fed up with Covid."