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Glemena Bettencourt

2013 Richmond Hill


For as long back as Glemena Bettencourt can remember she has been volunteering her time and energy to make a difference in her community. A self-admitted ‘hard worker’ and a big-hearted individual, Glemena attributes this drive and passion to her late mother Christine, who as a child volunteered under the compassionate guidance of Mother Teresa. Glemena is proud to have inherited her mother`s gift of giving and is grateful to her mom for having passed them on to her.


Pass them on she did. Glemena grew up with an acute sense of social responsibility wanting to help those that needed it. As a mere child herself this often meant helping out where she could. Glemena and her family and friends would go to The EX each year, playing games and winning those coveted prizes. But Glemena never kept the prizes she won; instead donating them to The Toronto Sick Kids Hospital. This initiative blossomed over the years into a very powerful annual toy drive led by Glemena herself, which continues on to this day, now called “The Oak Ridges Toy Drive in Support of Toy Mountain”.


Yet perhaps, Glemena’s biggest philanthropic footprint can be attributed to her work with the Terry Fox Foundation. For 33 years Glemena has given her blood, sweat and tears to fundraise for this important cause, dedicated since the day she saw Terry dip his foot into the Atlantic Ocean. “That day changed my life,” she said.


Amazed and awe inspired by Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, Glemena was determined to help, quickly springing into action. At first this was going door-to-door in her local area with a glass fish bowl, collecting donations in Terry’s name. This quickly expanded to fundraising in malls and other public areas to bring more widespread awareness and donations. “I feel very proud that I was committed and helping to fundraise at a grassroots level even before I had the pleasure of meeting Terry,” she said.


After meeting Terry in 1980, Glemena became what she fondly calls a “Marathon of Hope Groupie.” She participated in the Marathon of Hope in whatever way she could, travelling to the different towns and cities that Terry ran through collecting donations, selling t-shirts and much more.


After Terry’s passing Glemena’s dedication never wavered. She continued to participate and volunteer for the annual Terry Fox Run in Toronto and in 2008 Glemena founded a local chapter of The Terry Fox Run in her hometown of Oak Ridges. The first year they raised a modest $ 5,000, which has since blossomed into $28,000 in 2012.


And when she is not busy planning for the next run, which is a commitment that takes 5 months each year, she is visiting local schools to show her Terry Fox memorabilia and talk about Terry and his Marathon of Hope. “One of my greatest passions is visiting schools to share my story about Terry, make sure he is never forgotten, and that his dream of a world free of cancer lives on in each generation,” she said. However, Glemena clarifies that “My aspiration would be to not do this anymore because that would mean we would have a cure. But until then I will just keep going.”


Looking toward the future Glemena knows that volunteering will continue to play a big part of her life in many ways, as it is an integral part of who she is.

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