09/14/2014 06:18 EDT | Updated 11/14/2014 05:59 EST

Terry Fox: thousands across B.C. run in his honour

Hundreds of people gathered in Terry Fox’s hometown of Port Coquitlam, B.C., Sunday to take part in the 34th annual run and to raise money for cancer in Fox's honour.

Participants had the option of choosing between a 2.5, six and 10 km, run, walk, roller blade or bike.

Similar runs were held across Canada, but in Port Coquitlam, where his Marathon of Hope began and ended with his death 33 years ago, Fox is the hometown hero.

Judith Fox, Terry's sister attended the Port Coquitlam run.

"It's exciting," she said. "I'm full of pride and gratitude to know that people are here to come to the hometown run to support Terry."

It was an emotional day for Fox remembering her brother.

"I can't help but think of that journal entry for that day, April 12, 1980," she recalled.  "He said, 'Today is the day it all begins."

Marathon of Hope

The 21-year-old Fox was battling bone cancer when he began his Marathon of Hope in 1980.

He ran the equivalent of a marathon a day for 143 days, making his way across the Atlantic provinces as well as Ontario and Quebec before he was forced to stop in Thunder Bay, Ont., when cancer spread to his lungs.

Fox died months later at the age of 22 after raising more than $22 million for cancer research.

Today his run is a worldwide movement. Thousands of Terry Fox runs are held in dozens of countries across the globe. And hundreds of million dollars have been raised for cancer research.

"Today there's a run in Egypt, and we also have runs in India, Beijing, Croatia, the United Arab Emirates, Doha, Qatar," said Judith Fox. "Cuba has over two million participants in their Terry Fox run day in 5,000 locations."

Here in BC, many schools hold Terry Fox runs. And despite the ongoing teachers' dispute that has public schools closed, organizers say runs will go ahead.  

"The national school run day is set for Wednesday, September the 24th, and we've already heard from teachers everywhere that if they're not back in class by then, there will be a Terry Fox run in their school," said the Terry Fox Foundation's Donna White.  

"So we're really not worried."​

The Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $650 million for cancer research since it began helping to lead to numerous breakthroughs in the field.