BY CLAIRE CUDAHY
The 2015 Terry Fox Run marked Red Laker Ian Chuhai’s 28th year of fundraising, during which he raised a whopping $165,615 for cancer research thanks to hours of dedication and support from the community over the years.
It all started back in 1988 when 13-year-old Ian was watching TV and saw a picture of Terry Fox running with his artificial leg, says his mother Mary.
“He said, ‘I want to do that!’ I said, ‘What do you want to do?’ Because he never spoke very much…‘Get money to buy that boy a new leg!’” recalls Mary. “It took a while to explain to him that Terry Fox has passed away from his cancer, but to him, he’s still running and he still needs a new leg.”
That first year, Ian raised $285, but the second year he raked in $741 and the growth continued exponentially. Over the last ten years, Ian raised $7,500 to $9,500 for the Terry Fox Run each year.
“On Saturdays and Sundays, he may go to the store (Balmertown Foodfair) if it’s nice out at 10 o’clock in the morning and sit out there until 5. And when he’s walking around town, he collects too,” explains Mary.
Ian begins fundraising in August and continues right up until the day before the race in mid-September.
“He’ll just go and go and go,” says Mary. “He just enjoys what he’s doing and he slaps that smile on and goes for it.”
Mary credits his sincere and non-pushy method for Ian’s success with fundraising.
“He never asks anybody. He just takes his book and will hand it to you, and if you don’t have any money then he says thank you and moves on,” she says.
According to Mary, he’s always had a knack for fundraising.
“He used to collect money for other things when he was young. He was one of the top raisers in everything,” she explains. “Same with the hockey. He used to sell tickets for the high school hockey team. He was with them for 25 years.”
Mary is Ian’s biggest supporter in his fundraising endeavors and does her part for the Terry Fox Run by baking banana bread, zucchini bread, and chocolate chip cookies to pass out at the half-way point of the race every year.
“Sunny days I’m out there in the open, if it’s raining I’m out there in my friend’s carport,” says Mary.
Look for Ian’s “Thank You” sign to the community for 28 years of support at Balmertown Foodfair.