The Canadian Super Hero by: Dominic Hanlon

Peter_Martin_Terry_Fox_resumes_his_Marathon_of_Hope_run_in_sout_266_55My notion of cancer was less potent in the summer of 2012 when I received an email from my friend Dom Hanlon. He was drumming up support for another Terry Fox Run. But this was no ordinary fundraising appeal. It read more like a treatise on heroism, and it moved me to donate for the first time. Since cancer took my Dad swiftly in the Fall of 2012, the words carry even greater weight. This year, I run. Join us and read Dom’s appeal below, revised for the 2014 event – Chris LePan

I hope everyone is having a great summer. September is here and so I wanted to touch base with everyone about this year’s Terry Fox Run.

This summer has seen a few “super hero” movies be released. Like a lot of people I know, I was excited for the new Captain America movie and it did not disappoint. After watching such movies, I got to thinking: Why are we attracted so strongly to super hero stories? It’s like we have this inherent need to witness someone fighting evil, against all odds, from a place of moral purity. Throw in some super human feats and you’ve got the basis of pretty much every main stream comic book hero. And we all love when the good guy wins.

It got me comparing these stories to Terry Fox. In my opinion and in all seriousness his is the greatest super hero story. Think about what we want out of our super heroes. They have to be humble, good natured, committed, fight for the people, selfless, and capable of things the average person is not. Terry came from a working class family and never wanted what he did to be about him. He was willing to die for what he believed in: that no person should have to suffer through cancer. In addition to all this, he did things that were actually refuted as physically impossible: 150 consecutive marathons, rain or shine, on one leg. Super human, indeed. Don’t think so? Try running one marathon on two legs.

Every super hero needs a super villain. Cancer killed about 8.2 million people worldwide in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. It does not discriminate between sex, race, social status, intelligence or age. It tortures its victims with excruciating pain. It costs a fortune to treat. It takes children from their parents, parents from their children, spouses from each other, brothers, sisters, friends. Can you think of a more deserving villain to fight against?

There is one other thing that every hero story needs: doubt that the hero can succeed against such great odds and such a formidable opponent. On September 1, 1980, Terry had to stop his run just outside of Thunder Bay due to the return of cancer in his body. He never finished his run and died the next year without returning to finish what he started.

But this is the greatest part of the Terry Fox story: although it looked as though he had been defeated, he did not lose. His fight was to unite all of us in the battle against cancer. And this is OUR chance to join him in this battle: through his Foundation and annual run, WE can raise millions of dollars for Cancer research and treatment. WE get to celebrate a true, real life hero and continue his battle.

On Sunday, September 14, please join me to run, bike or walk in this year’s Terry Fox Run. If you can’t participate, please find some money to donate. It would be nice if everyone donated at least the price of a Hollywood movie, but even if it’s just $1, every bit counts. Seriously. Click here to support the cause – Dominic Hanlon

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Minimum Overhead, Maximum Benefit

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The Terry Fox Foundation requires no minimum donation to participate, no specific directions on how to fundraise or how to move along the five or 10-kilometer route. You’re free to participate your own way.

Indie 88.1 provided the sweet tunes for the High Park run. Participants walked their dogs, walked themselves, and ran hard, jogged, biked or strolled their way to the finish. Volunteers gave out baked goods, and the good men and women of ICT Kikkawa College provided massages afterward.

It’s an uplifting way to spend the day, part of a truly Canadian nationwide event, truly inspired by a real Canadian superhero. My friend Dom Hanlon wrote a great article that you can read here on the life of Terry and what it means. (Team leader Dom bears a tattoo on his right leg of a running Terry Fox). The story he wrote, which I originally received via email was what convinced me to support the Terry Fox Foundation.

In 1981, Terry said, “Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.”

Maybe the best thing about the Terry Fox Run is all the good vibes it generates. This event will go on, even when we find a cure for cancer because the Terry Fox story is timeless.

Thank you for your support. As a result of your donation, I’ve raised over $4000 thus far for the Terry Fox Foundation and the Princess Margaret Foundation, with proceeds invested in cancer research and palliative care.

Of the 12 Terry Fox Runs across the city, running in the High Park event was the easy choice. It was the location of the City of Toronto high school cross- country meets where my Dad cheered me on. He also taught me how to give a proper handshake around that time.

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Thank you from We Rise at Daybreak…..ish

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We came. We saw. We Rode at Daybreak…..ish.

On June 7, 2014, we set foot to pedal for our first Ride to Conquer Cancer as a team. From Toronto to Hamilton to Niagara Falls, this 220 kilometre bicycle voyage is not for the faint of heart.

The number of cancer survivors that participated in the event, distinguished by a sturdy yellow flag attached to their bikes, was astonishing. More than 5,000 total riders raised a collective $20 million for cancer research. Though our team of six brought in a relatively modest $17,500, it was truly humbling to take part in a fundraising event of this magnitude.

There were tear jerking moments. Arriving at the finish line in Hamilton, I thought most of my Dad: how much we miss him, all the things we didn’t get to say and all the things we didn’t get to do, what a profound impact his loss has had on my whole family.

But the feel-good vibes emanating from all the supporters who cheered from the side of the road, holding homemade signs that read “Thank you”, helped to balance everything out. We must have heard hundreds of these thank-yous. I just wanted to thank them…..and keep going.

The policemen and women, who blocked off so many intersections and highway crossings, the volunteers, who served up our food, Advil, sun block, and everything we needed to sustain our ride in relative comfort and safety; their efforts were crucial to the event’s success.

The psychological challenge equalled the physical one. As Paul Alofs, President and CEO of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, reminded us at the start line: “Why do we ride? Because our sweat is nothing compared to their tears. Because our challenge is nothing compared to their fight. Because we are all on one journey, with one destination, one goal: to conquer cancer.”

I want to thank each of you who donated, friends and family, and everyone who said a kind word about my Father: his university hockey team the Golden Hawks, his former drivers and teammates from the auto sport world, including one friend, Jeffrey Mowins. After inheriting my Dad’s old bicycle, putting a new tire on and giving it a tune up, Jeffrey offered to send it to me (from Indiana) for use in the ride. That was an amazing gesture.

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Philip LePan would have approved of this event, the psychological and physical challenge involved as well as the determination required would have appealed to his sense of perseverance and love of athleticism. I wish I could have done this with you, Dad.

I want to express my gratitude to my close friends and teammates, each of whom I leaned on in the weeks and months following my Dad’s passing. Thank you, gentlemen (Steven Budd, Ian Gray, Stephen Burtch, Chris Budd, Michael Budd). These are guys I’ve known for a collective 142 years, and the friendship therein may not feel altogether unlike an old married couple, a very old married couple. But it’s fun. And it’s good. We enjoyed ourselves. We all feel like we did a good thing, and I’d like to think we’re right about that.

We have a lot of people in common who have been affected by cancer, to remember and to support. It’s also clear that we each have our own reasons for riding, as we each have our own personal experience with the illness and therefore attach a different meaning to the event. Combining all that similarity and difference into a team of six leaders, training at GoodLife Fitness and Ultimate Athletics Wednesdays together, organizing fundraising together, engaging in countless email threads together and of course riding from Toronto to Hamilton and to Niagara Falls together, this is a good thing. It is also no small challenge: to communicate effectively, to compromise and see things from each other’s perspective, to temper personal expectation; perhaps a labour of love, and far from flawless, but when done well, well worth it when considering the importance of the cause.

“…our sweat, their tears.”

I was struck by the likely half-dozen or more people along the route, whose attempt to complete the Ride had come to an end: a rider writhing in pain on a hill halfway to Hamilton, his teammate scraped up good, beside him. A collision, a fall, exhaustion, we weren’t sure. Anything could go wrong. Thank God for the first responders. There was a rider lying face down on the road, immobilized, yet talking calmly, reassuring those around here that she was okay, her day likely done.

For these riders, the optimism at the outset of the event, likely turned to temporary disappointment. It was hard to see that. To take nothing away from those who didn’t finish. Their effort was impressive nonetheless. In a sense, they’d already crossed the finish line. They hit their fundraising minimums. They honoured the memories of friends and family lost to cancer. Coming back to the words at the start line, our sweat and our pain are nothing compared to their tears.

Conquering cancer in our lifetime may seem like an impossible task, but like in any realm of human endeavour what seems to be and what could be are often worlds apart. Thank you for helping the team, We Ride at Daybreak…..ish, do our small part to bring ourselves one step closer to what could be.

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Philip Buchan LePan

Husband, Father, racer. Born August 19, 1948, in Toronto Ont., died December 19, 2012 in Toronto Ont., of cancer, aged 64.

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Upon graduating from Waterloo Lutheran University with a Major in geography and a Minor in hockey, Phil became a public school teacher (grade five) for two years. But the excitement he sought lay elsewhere. It was in the world of auto sport where Phil would immerse himself and his family, wife Donna, and sons Chris and Nick.

As a boy, Phil was intrigued by the antics of Mr. Proctor, a neighbour on Toronto Island, for whom crowds would gather to watch him ride his bicycle straight into Lake Ontario. This would have been quite a sight, especially for a kid of unconventional dreams.

His career in racing, as a mechanic and team manager, took him around the world. Stops along the way headquartered him in the English countryside, in California, and across the Midwest.

An unspoken family goal was to bridge the gap between the travelling life of an Indy Car man and a relatively normal life in the Toronto neighourhood of Leaside. He sped home when he could. Or, the family went racing to meet him.

There were long days at the track. There was also a lot of fun for the kids, which included taking exploratory missions of track sites on team motor scooters and shooting the breeze with Michael Andretti. Access to Dad in this environment sometimes meant pitching in by lugging around race car parts or throwing massive tires over the wall to the mechanics on race day.

The man could write a mean To Do list. He led fitness training regimens and pit-stop repetitions for his mechanics with whom he won the award for fastest pit crew. Back home, he took us on long bike treks throughout the Don Valley.

The day I told him I was quitting baseball upset him. He kept saying: “You’ll regret it,” and I did. He once erased my whole math assignment for its carelessness. He did not tolerate a half-hearted effort. He took the golf club out of my hand when the grip wasn’t right.

But time with Dad was nothing if not authentic. Watching ball games and playing catch never lost their appeal. Spending time taming his overgrown Indiana property, even the mundane tasks of raking leaves and clearing brush, resonates most. He was calm and kind after a job well done, a good friend.

A real triumph was seeing our man Phil, as part of the Forsythe Racing Team with Paul Tracy at the wheel; clinch the Indy Cart Championship of 2003 in Mexico City. Hundreds of thousands stood and cheered throughout that larger than life event.

But in racing, tragedy always lurked around the corner. Greg Moore, Dad’s promising young driver, was fatally injured in the last race of 1999 in Fontana, California. Phil had the task of collecting and cataloguing the broken pieces of the race car for inspection.

Part of auto sport history for over 30 years, his career saw him land work with Team Lotus in Formula 1 and a host of Indy Car outfits. That he shared that history and many checkered flags with names like Mansell, Andretti, and Villeneuve did not inflate his ego. You would not learn of his accomplishments from him.

Despite the pull of his adopted country of United States and even becoming an American citizen late in life, he remained Canadian in spirit and countenance. If you’re among the best at what you do, there’s no need to go around telling people that. He exemplified that.

Through time and determination, he gave his all to the sport. He was helped by many along the way, and he returned the favour by helping friends land jobs in the musical chairs game of auto sport.

In August 2012, weeks after managing Dale Coyne Racing and driver Justin Wilson to the checkered flag in Texas, he left the team due to fatigue. It was his last win.

During this final summer, my Dad removed an old hot tub from his deck, and in so doing, he inadvertently took away the home of a groundhog that lived underneath. He watched the animal walk away across the yard and, before entering the forest, turn back wistfully for one last look at where his old home had been. He felt badly about that.

He still felt guilty about kicking a soccer ball that hit me square in the face when I was three years old (over 30 years ago). From time to time he asked me, as if for the first time, whether I remembered that and that he was sorry.

 

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Philip Buchan LePan, 1948 – 2012

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Innovating social media

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HootSuite Media Inc. navigates a transforming landscape By: Chris LePan | October 2, 2012 The social media revolution happened fast and it just keeps happening. For CEO Ryan Holmes, 37, constant innovation is a way of life and the way … Continue reading

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Trois-Pistoles, Storybook, Quebec

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Three hours up the road from Quebec City, there is a storybook town. In that town, there is a wonderful forest, fit for Alice. Fluorescent toadstools and mad grouses that jump out of hiding populate the landscape. Rainy slate glistens … Continue reading

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