On this, the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11, I thought it would be a nice idea to tell a story of courage, hope, inspiration, of a hero...Terry Fox was all of these, and more.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the name Terry Fox, here is a brief summation of who he was and what he did.
In March of 1977, eighteen year old Terry Fox was suffering with a sore right knee. After visiting his doctor and having some tests done, Terry was diagnosed with the cancer "Osteosarcoma" and told he would need to get his right leg amputated and undergo chemotherapy. He was also told he had about a fifty percent chance of survival. Terry's doctor also went on to tell him that if he had been diagnosed with this cancer two years earlier (1975), his chances for survival would only have been about fifteen percent, but THANKS TO CANCER RESEARCH, the survival rate had greatly increased, and would hopefully continue to increase. This last statement left a very deep impression on Terry.
Terry was given an artificial leg (quite crude by today's standards) and underwent sixteen months of chemotherapy. Doctors were quite pleased with Terry's progress. As Terry went for his treatments, he became friends with many other cancer patients who suffered from this terrible disease, and unfortunately died because of it. His hospital experiences had made Fox angry at how little money was dedicated to cancer research.
Terry wanted to help raise money for cancer research, but how? His answer...to run across Canada to increase cancer awareness and raise money for important cancer research. Many people were incredulous at this idea (including some of Terry's closest friends and family), for this cross Canada run would be quite the task for an athlete in perfect health and in top condition, both of which Terry was not; However, Terry was undeterred and trained hard. On April 12, 1980, with very little fanfare, Terry dipped his artifical leg into the Atlantic Ocean near St. John's, Newfoundland and began his run, the "Marathon of Hope". His goal was to run the distance of a marathon each day (approximately 26 miles or 42 kilometres per day) until he reached Victoria, British Columbia... a distance of 4,860 miles (or 7,821 kilometres)! Terry hoped that by the end of his run, every Canadian will have donated one dollar, creating 24 million dollars for cancer research.
On September 1, 1980, after enduring 143 days of variable weather and great pain where his right leg stump attached to his artificial leg, Terry approached the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Unfortunately, he began to experience intense coughing fits and pain in his chest. He was taken to a hospital in Thunder Bay where he and the rest of Canada received bad news...Terry's cancer had returned and spread to his lungs. After running a distance of 3,339 miles (or 5,373 kilometres), Terry was forced to end his run on the Trans Canada Highway, just a few kilometres away from where this monument in his honor now stands. Although the "Marathon of Hope" was over, Terry reached his goal by raising over 24 million dollars for cancer research, and in September 1980, he was the youngest person ever to be named a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Despite aggressive chemotherapy treatments, Terry passed away June 28, 1981. Although Terry is gone, his efforts have resulted in a lasting, worldwide legacy. The annual Terry Fox Run (first held in 1981) occurs every September and has grown to involve millions of participants in over 60 countries. The Terry Fox Run is now the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research, raising over 600 million dollars (Canadian currency) in his name (and counting).
I still remember Terry's run, and am amazed at what this young man accomplished. Not only am I amazed at the amount of money he has raised for life saving cancer research, I am amazed at his strength, bravery, and courage to have run a marathon every day from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Canadian summers can be brutal, and he endured blazing heat, heavy rain, strong winds, biting insects, and worst of all, the pain on his right leg stump where his crude artificial leg was attached. Words and photos can't begin to describe all this, but the brief video you can link to below allows you to see footage of Terry's run, with the creator of this video using Terry's own words for narrative. I'm sure this video will touch you as much as it has touched me.
For more detailed information on Terry's life, please use this link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Fox_Run
For more information on the Terry Fox Foundation and the Terry Fox Run, please use this link:
Plaque at the Terry Fox Monument
Walkway to the Terry Fox Monument
Picnic Area at the Terry Fox Monument
View of Thunder Bay, Lake Superior, and the Trans-Canada Highway from the Terry Fox Monument
Visitor Center at the Terry Fox Monument