Jim Kramer (1971-2021) of Tillsonburg will not join this year’s Terry Fox Run, but through his poetry book Moments in Time Captured in Rhyme his fundraising legacy continues.
On July 18, after a courageous battle with cancer, Kramer passed away at the age of 49.
In the spring a book of Jim’s poetry was published with the intent of proceeds going to the Terry Fox Foundation.
“Just a general mixture of whatever Jim was feeling at the time when he wrote them,” said Ruthann Kramer, Jim’s mother. “And they were all from quite a few years ago, back in the late 90s most of them and early 2000s. There’s a mixture in there. A couple of them are true stories that happened in his life and other ones just things he thought about. Nature… lots of different things.”
Kramer’s poem The Old Clock Tower won 1st place (adult poetry division) in the 9th annual Footprints in the Sand Poetry and Prose Contest in 2014, which had a theme of ‘My Town: A Reflection of 50 Years.’ 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the poem Footprints in the Sand written by Margaret Fishback Powers, designated Tillsonburg’s Favourite Daughter in 2001.
“I think (The Old Clock Tower) is the last poem in the book,” said Ruthann. “The back cover of the book is about when he won the poetry contest.”
The first printing of 100 books in the spring sold out by June 3rd at $12.99, including 30-40 mailed to relatives, and a second publishing run of 100 books is quickly selling out.
For the 2nd (and final) printing it was noted at the back of the book that proceeds would go to the Terry Fox Foundation, as Kramer had wished for the first publishing.
“I think I have a couple here and the rest are at Sobeys for sale (in the flower display area),” said Ruthann. “I don’t think there are many left.”
A donation to Terry Fox Foundation has not happened yet as they want to wait for the last books to be sold.
“I want the whole amount known and that it came from the sale of his poetry book.”
Jim participated in his first Tillsonburg Terry Fox Run in 2012.
“I guess he thought about it for a few years,” said Ruthann. “He thought, ‘No, Terry put so much into that and it took so much effort to do it… I’m not going to go out there with an electric wheelchair.’ And then he decided if he could raise some money for Terry Fox, it didn’t matter whether he was ‘walking or running’ in a wheelchair. The whole idea was to raise that money towards cancer research.”
From 2012-2019 Jim raised more than $22,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation.
“He did what he could and I’m just very proud of him,” said Ruthann.
Jim also volunteered to help The Salvation Army Christmas kettle campaign.
“He just wanted to help, that’s all. He liked getting dressed up and putting on a Christmas tie. He just enjoyed getting out – he was a real ‘people person.’ So many people knew him.”
Jim was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a young child. Ruthann recalled discovering a lump at the age of 1-2 weeks – a hernia – but the doctor recommended waiting before sending him to a surgeon. At six weeks he was admitted to a hospital for surgery the following morning.
“We took him into St. Joe’s and that evening, after a feeding, he aspirated. So he was in there for six weeks before he had the surgery. When he aspirated it caused a lack of oxygen to his brain, so they told us he might have some permanent damage, but they couldn’t know for sure until he got older. They checked him off and on over the next year or so.”
Jim was just past his first birthday when his parents were told he had cerebral palsy.