Duncan man makes history as hero

This Sunday’s 35th annual Marathon of Hope will forever hold a special place in the heart and mind of 37-year-old Jared Huumonen of Duncan.

This Sunday’s 35th annual Marathon of Hope will forever hold a special place in the heart and mind of 37-year-old Jared Huumonen of Duncan.

He spent part of the summer filming a video Heritage Minute about Terry Fox for Historica Canada and the film was released Wednesday, Sept. 16, just days before the annual Terry Fox Run on Sunday, Sept. 20.

The Minute, which will be broadcast widely across Canada until January, tells Fox’s story of courage and perseverance in his own words.

Huumonen, who shares the same cancer background and amputation as Fox, was chosen to act the part of the stubborn, idealistic young Canadian, who continues to inspire millions of people around the world.

You can see it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2F9LbF_pF0

Watchers, seeing him running along the side of a highway, and later accompanied by his signature van, will get a lump in their throats, remembering the past.

For Huumonen, the impact was tremendous, but he didn’t even know anything about the film project until a call from the production team, Corkscrew Media, to his prosthetist, Geoff Hall. They were looking for a possible actor to portray Fox on his famous marathon.

“My prosthetist said, ‘I’ve got a guy that would be perfect for it.’ I had the same kind of cancer as Terry Fox. I was younger when I got it and went through all the same experiences that Terry went through. It’s been my whole life story,” Huumonen said Wednesday.

Cancer wasn’t new to his family, either, when it struck him.

“My mom beat cancer when I was 11,” he said.

But it was osteosarcoma, the same kind of bone cancer Fox had, that led to the loss of Huumonen’s leg when he was 16.

The parallels were uncanny and Fox has always been special to Huumonen.

“I wouldn’t have gotten through without Terry when I was 16. I was full of piss and vinegar and I got diagnosed and it was like, ‘Okay, Terry Fox has done this before, who’s been through this. I’ll cut off my leg and walk across Canada.’ But when I got into Children’s Hospital it was a lot different, you know.”

He saw the children struggling there with the disease and felt all Fox’s pain and frustration at “not finding a reason for it all.”

A lifelong Cowichan Valley resident, Huumonen said he and his family were elated to be part of such a tribute to his hero.

Fox’s own family was involved in the making of the film. His younger brother, Darrell Fox, said on the video’s release, “You could spend a lifetime standing on the shoulder of the roads of Canada watching Terry run and taking in the impact he was having on others with every step. Historica Canada has somehow captured in 60 seconds the power, the emotion, the determination, and the courage that radiated nationally and globally for 143 Marathon of Hope days.”

In that short time in 1980, Terry Fox ran 5,373 kilometres to raise money for cancer research. His story has touched generations of Canadians. When the Heritage Minute project was re-launched in 2012, a Historica Canada poll asked Canadians which events or figures they would most like to see in a Minute. Terry Fox was the number one suggestion, with 80 per cent of respondents selecting him as their top choice.

CTV News anchor and host Lloyd Robertson lends his signature voice to the video, delivering the classic end narration. Days after the Marathon of Hope ended in September 1980, Robertson hosted a star-studded telethon on CTV that raised $10 million. He later served as honorary chairperson of the Terry Fox Run.