Cancer survivor chosen to play Terry Fox

TV: Jared Huumonen featured in clip to mark the run’s 35th year.

On set: Jared Huumonen in full costume to portray Canadian icon Terry Fox

On set: Jared Huumonen in full costume to portray Canadian icon Terry Fox

When he was 16, Jared Huumonen lost his leg to the same kind of cancer that claimed the life of Canadian hero Terry Fox.

Little did he know that years later, Huumonen would be asked to portray Fox during a History Moment television clip.

Jared, whose parents, Shirley and Tapio live in Sicamous, will be featured in the one-minute clip which will be running on various networks in tribute to the 35th anniversary of Terry’s remarkable journey across Canada. The clips began airing Tuesday, Sept 15 on Bell Media channels, including CTV, Much, MTV, TSN and Comedy. Then other broadcasters will start airing it, including CBC, the History channel and Shaw networks in Victoria and Vancouver.

Huumonen was recruited to play Terry Fox through the company which makes his prosthetic leg. The production company, Historica Canada, was looking for someone who might be suitable and although, at 37, Huumonen is older than Terry Fox, his height and build is similar. With the addition of a curly wig, some short-shorts and a specially made prosthetic leg designed to look like the one Terry Fox wore, Huumonen was nearly ready to film.

First, Hummonen needed some hair bleach for his arms and legs, as his dark hair was not compatible with Terry’s. Then, he needed special lessons in learning to run like Terry Fox.

“This was a challenge, because prosthetics have come so far since then. Jared now has what we call a super-bionic leg that he would use for running, but back then things were much more cumbersome, resulting in that distinctive gait Terry had. And they studied a lot of films and he worked a lot on a track to get they way Terry held his arms just right,” says Huumonen’s mother Shirley. “Jared told me the worst part was wearing the wig because it was so hot as he was running.”

But Shirley says being asked to play Terry Fox was such an honour for Jared, who always looked to Terry as a hero, especially after surviving the same type of cancer, osteogenic sarcoma.

“We were two years with Jared at Children’s Hospital and in Ronald McDonald House with treatments. We were very lucky Jared’s cancer did not spread like Terry’s did.”

With her voice wavering, Shirley spoke of how proud it was for her family to see Jared out running as Terry.

“What Terry did, and is still doing to help those fighting cancer. To see Jared out there…” she says. “It still just chokes me up every time.”

While there is not a Terry Fox Run in Sicamous, Shirely says she hopes to get one started as soon as next year. And she will make sure Jared attends.

Shirley is looking forward to the school Terry Fox Run at Parkview Elementary on Thursday and hopes students there will see the TV clip and learn about the hometown connection.

Shirley is also anxious for people to support the Terry Fox Run in Salmon Arm, which takes place at Blackburn Park on Sunday, Sept. 20. at 10 a.m.

There will be two-, four- and 10-kilometre distances.

To register, visit www.terryfox.org and registrations will also be taken in advance of the run. Registration will open at 8 a.m.

The run is suitable for bikes, wheelchairs/strollers and rollerblades. Dogs on leash are welcome.