“Nobody is ever going to call me a quitter” – Terry Fox
“He never quit on his dream, and neither will I.” – Sean Wright
Sean Wright likes to push himself, to face challenges, to set goals and surpass them.
He chooses goals he knows will require hard work, and then methodically plans what he needs to do to accomplish them. He makes lists and follows them. He sets training schedules and makes sure they become part of a routine. He keeps track of details, writing them all down.
This year, he has set himself the goal of swimming along the Lake Ontario shoreline to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation, instead of running. He hasn’t decided where exactly to start — he was originally planning to go from a friend’s dock, opposite Lakeshore Antiques & Treasures on Lakeshore Road, to the gazebo at Queen’s Royal Park.
Now he’s thinking that might be a little too much — he may begin his swim at Konzelman Estate Winery. He’s hoping for a distance he can handle safely in about two hours, he says, and he isn’t stopping until he gets to the gazebo. His parents Patti and Bob Wright and his big brother Ben will be waiting for him — they haven’t all been together as a family for a while, so he’s excited about that — and he hopes lots of friends “will be hootin’ and hollerin,’” cheering him on as he reaches the gazebo and climbs out of the water. “Nothing is going to stop me from finishing, except maybe lightning.”
Since 2016, when he walked five kilometres in his first Terry Fox event, one of his goals has been to do something each year that would be different, and harder than the year before. He pushed himself to train, to run, and then to run further. In 2018 he finish the 10-km Terry Fox run in 50 minutes. He completed 15 kms in one hour and 10 minutes in 2019, and 20 kms in one hour, 39 minutes in 2020.
Last year, he set his sights on a 25-km run, but “due to a little confusion” he stopped at 28.67 kms when he realized he was doing an extra lap. He finished in two hours, 27 minutes, raising about $600.
Wright, now 39, was an 18-year-old Niagara District Secondary School student in 2001 when he was involved in a collision at Line 1 and Townline Road. The driver of the car, another student, lost control, went into the ditch and hit the guardrail. Wright was thrown onto the road from the backseat, and sustained a severe head injury.
He graduated from high school, and worked hard to become a registered massage therapist at college. It wasn’t easy because of his brain injury makes him forgetful, he says, but he wasn’t going to give up. “It took me an extra year, but I finished.”
In recent years, he has been working at 124 on Queen. A chart he keeps meticulously shows that since September 2014, when he started at the Queen Street hotel and spa, despite lockdowns during COVID and closures during renovations, he has given 2,311 massages. That includes another 20 for athletes competing at the recent Canada Summer Games, where he had fun volunteering. “That was an awesome experience,” he says.
These days he’s busy working out, cycling, and running. He’s added swimming at the Kinsmen Pool in St. Catharines, gradually increasing his time from 20 minutes to an hour, in preparation for his fundraising swim.
“I set myself a good schedule, what I’m going to do every day, and I abide by it,” he says.
He started training last October, ramped up with outdoor runs once the weather improved, and has been increasing his weights and working with thicker resistance belts.
He has also found a training mask useful. Intended to improve lung capacity and oxygen efficiency by restricting air flow as you run, he says, “I can’t believe how much it’s helped. It’s even helping me with my job, making the massages easier.”
He will do some open water swimming, likely beginning this week, being very cautious and staying close to the shoreline as he swims.
He’ll have kayakers along with him for safety, but is hoping to find someone with a motorized boat to also accompany him when he swims.
Despite having to work harder than others might to accomplish his goals, Wright focuses on a positive attitude, much like Terry Fox.
He won’t accept that he can’t do something — he just keeps working on it until he can. And when he feels like giving up on a goal, he pushes himself until he gets it done.
“During the beginning of the pandemic I began making up my own beats and rhymes and putting them up on YouTube at SW2,” he says. So far he has 14 subscribers, and worldwide lifetime views are at 4,209.
“I just posted my song #365. Again, don’t say you can’t or you will quit,’ says Wright. “Who knows what else you can do? Don’t give up. Don’t quit.”
“If I think something is tough,” he adds, “and I don’t think I can do it, I tell myself I can. You have to prove to yourself that you can do it.”
Terry, he says, wanted to do the impossible to show it could be done.
Wright wants to show that he can do this swim for Terry, he says. “I’m going to try my hardest.”
After two years, the Terry Fox Run is back in-person, beginning at Simcoe Park Sept. 18, at 9 a.m.
Wright is swimming the same morning, beginning around 10:30 to 11 a..m, and hopes to be finished between 12:30 and 1 p.m.
Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate, go to https://run.terryfox.ca/page/swimseanswim