New Zealander runs across Canada to raise money for cancer research, stops in Vancouver to honour Terry Fox

A New Zealander is taking a leaf out of one of Canada’s most famed and beloved sons, Terry Fox.

Jon Nabbs has spent the last 10 months running across Canada, raising more than $80,000 in the process for childhood cancer research.

And, he’s done it solo.

“Everything that I need for this journey is in a baby stroller, which I’ve actually nicknamed ‘Shania.’ And I’m running with my tent, my sleeping bag, my food, my clothes, everything in there,” he told CityNews.

At 7,200 km of his 8,000 km journey, Nabbs is spending Thursday going to the BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim’s office, and BC Place to visit the Terry Fox memorial before he takes a plunge in English Bay.

“In recent years, I’ve connected with some wonderful Canadians — such as Ingrid, my college girlfriend, from Ottawa — who introduced me to the human side of Canada as well,” Nabbs said.

“And even more recently, I discovered the story of Terry Fox, the 22-year-old Canadian leg-amputee who attempted to run across the entire width of Canada to raise funds for cancer research in the 1980s.

“Images of him are easily found online, and I found them very moving — one of the most poignant examples I’d ever seen of a life dedicated to its ideals. And his ideals are outstanding: courage, compassion, hope, determination, service, optimism, authenticity.”

But it seems Nabbs is working out that Fox’s compassion isn’t just limited to him.

“[It’s been] unbelievable. The generosity of the Canadians along the way, the desire to help people going out of their way to come and support me in this big endeavor, it’s just been so heartwarming and so unexpected.”

Nabbs’ reasoning for this major undertaking is a personal one, he explains.

“Both my parents lost their lives to cancer in 2020/21. I know the desperate feeling a family experiences when they receive a diagnosis, and the importance of continuing to find hope, inspiration, joy, and trying to live through that period on your own terms,” he said.

It’s not the first time Nabbs has set off on his own. In 2022, he walked the length of Aotearoa (New Zealand) — a non-stop walk of 3,000 km.

Starting his latest journey in Newfoundland, Nabbs and Shania braved the winter in some of the country’s harshest conditions.

“My eyebrows [froze], my eyelashes froze together. As a New Zealander, the coldest weather I had ever seen was -5°C on a midwinter’s night.

“To see -53°C in Calgary around the New Year, that was something else.”

On Friday, Nabbs is off to Victoria to finish his run at Mile Zero of the Trans Canada Highway.

The money Nabbs raises on his cross-Canada run will be going toward both New Zealand and Canadian child cancer services.

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