Thousands Cheer One-Legged Runner
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ Steve Fonyo, a young Canadian who chose to raise money for cancer by running across the country on an artificial leg, reached the West Coast on Monday to the applause of thousands of supporters in Vancouver’s stadium.
Fonyo, who plans to finish his 4,913-mile ″Journey for Lives″ Wednesday in Victoria on Vancouver Island, re-enacted his travels on a giant map of Canada displayed on the B.C. Place football field, striding from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
″Vancouver gave me a great welcome,″ said Fonyo, 19, who lost his right leg to cancer when he was 12. ″It really is amazing.″
The 60,000-seat domed stadium was nearly half-full for his arrival, and thousands of other people lined the streets to cheer the youth as he ran through the city.
The ceremonies in Fonyo’s honor, including a gala by volunteer performers, were televised live. Banks of telephone operators took calls from viewers who wanted to contribute.
The effort has raised more than $5 million for the Canadian Cancer Society. Donations have soared in the final weeks as it became clear that Fonyo would achieve his goal.
After crossing the Georgia Strait on a naval destroyer, Fonyo has just 22 miles to cover in two days of running on Vancouver Island to reach the Pacific Ocean, an easy pace by the 20-mile-a-day standard he set crossing the world’s second-largest country.
At Mile Zero on the Trans-Canada highway in Victoria, Fonyo plans to dip his artificial limb in the ocean, completing a trek begun 14 months ago when he doused his running shoe in the Atlantic Ocean at St. John’s, Newfoundland.
″If he can do that, it’s the least I can do to put some dough into cancer research,″ said Art Thomas, who came to Vancouver from nearby Richmond to see Fonyo. ″I’m a poor senior citizen, but I can give 10 bucks.″
Harriet Chicoine, a student at Simon Fraser University, said she admired Fonyo’s courage.
″Just the thought of having to be those 14 months on the road. It’s such a selfless thing to do,″ she said. ″It’s nice to have a Canadian hero.″