Citizen of the Year, Terry Foster, walks to help others

By Jamie Morris

Terry Foster in Memorial Park, Lindsay
Terry Foster in Memorial Park, Lindsay

Good neighbours care, right? They help those in need. By this measure Terry Foster is a model neighbour, richly deserving of his 2020 Citizen of the Year award from the Lindsay + District Chamber of Commerce.

Over the years he’s participated in 111 10-kilometre fundraising walks and brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy causes.

The first cause he took up 35 years ago was cystic fibrosis. “My wife, Rebecca had a young relative with CF. When we’d visit, her mom would have to pound away on her back to break up the mucus. She’d do this over and over. I decided to take part in a Zellers/Kinsman CF Moonwalk to raise some money.”

Since then, he’s finished 33 more walks for CF. He has also walked for the Terry Fox Foundation — 34 times.

Occasionally, he admits, the walks can be challenging. “I’ve walked in 85 degrees. One year, for multiple sclerosis, I did the whole thing in a thunderstorm, umbrella in both hands. Rain was coming down like a sheet and I couldn’t see the houses I passed.”

But the walks themselves are just the tip of the fundraising iceberg.

Chances are if you live in Lindsay you’ve had Terry canvassing at your door. You’d remember. He always wears a commemorative T-shirt (“so many darn T-shirts”) and has clipboard in hand. And then there’s the long grey beard, which trails below his sternum. He hasn’t been clean-shaven since he was 18.

Terry is happy to see progress in treatments for cancer and CF “When I started the CF walks, they told us straight out kids born with CF were lucky to get to kindergarten. Now I walk with people in their 40s and 50s (who are) still going.”

Even Terry’s selflessness couldn’t keep life from throwing a curveball. The fellow who, in 2019, raised over half the $20,000 brought in by that year’s Terry Fox Run, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in mid-2020. Suddenly, he, too, stood to benefit from the advances in treatments.

His immediate concern was completing the 2020 walk. He adjusted his schedule, collecting pledges right up to the mid-August start of his treatments, and completed the walk in late August (still bringing in almost as much money as the previous year.)

The other concern, he admits, was that he might lose his beard. A bit of vanity, maybe, but it affected his usual Christmas plans, too: For the past dozen years Terry’s played Santa after collecting toys for the Kinsmen Club toy drive and has played Santa.

In August and September Terry underwent 28 radiation and five chemo treatments that significantly shrank the cancer. An operation in November excised the rest. In December, doctors in Peterborough told him he was cancer-free. The beard (which he did lose) is growing back.

Terry himself, as he turns 65, has high hopes and big plans for this year. For the 41st anniversary of the Terry Fox run he has something special in mind. He will start from Lindsay’s town hall and, over four days, walk to the northern, southern, eastern, and western limits of Kawartha Lakes, besting the 130-km walk he did for MS in 2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.