Around two million Cubans participated in the 13th Marathon of Hope in Havana this year. It was a huge party of life dedicated to young Canadian Terry Fox, an example of human tenacity in the face of cancer.
Terry suffered it and, because of it, he lost his right leg. At 18 and with a prosthetic leg he ran 26 miles every day for 143 days until he was overcome by the cancer that had reached his lungs and that eventually took his life. His example is considered an expression of the human desire for life and of not surrendering to whatever the challenge.
That was Terry’s idea who, in his exemplary way, sent hope to the farthest reaches of the planet so that no man or woman, whatever creed, race or physical condition, gives up on the constant search for a better life.
According to a spokesperson of the event’s organizing committee for the “party of life”, people in more than 5,500 towns and in all 169 of the island’s municipalities participated in the Terry Fox Run on March 19.
This time, among the celebrities participating in the run against cancer were famed Cuban athletes: high jump world champion and world record holder Javier Sotomayor, boxer Félix Savón and veteran runner Enrique Figuerola.
The Canadian Ambassador to Cuba, His Excellency Matthew Levin, stated that it was a great inspiration for him to see so many people, motivated by a noble cause and solidarity, participating in the run.
According to Teresa Romero, general coordinator for the Integral Program for Cancer Control, the disease is the second cause of death in Cuba, with 30,000 new cases and 21,000 fatalities each year.
As part of the effort to raise money to fight cancer, before the race 70 Cuban artists donated 76 paintings to be auctioned and Cuba’s National Ballet offered an homage gala with the Don Quixote Ballet.
The 2011 Marathon of Hope, integrated into the National Paralympics, the most important competition in the country for handicapped athletes, turned out to be significant for the participation of people with some handicap, a clear sign of the breaking of this social and psychological barrier.
“Our goal is for handicapped people to participate in this run for life, where all are champions. We want all who have not yet done so to break the barrier of disability with a street activity, one that’s for everyone and under equal conditions and demands” explained Carlos Gattorno, head of the Marabana-Maracuba Project, which manages all marathon races in Cuba.
“To spread human determination and solidarity, to advance socialization in sports, those are our objectives; the practice of exercise is for all people because we have the same goal, the quality of life” added Gattorno.