Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and grew up in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and was forced to have his right leg amputated 15 cm (six inches) above the knee in 1977.
While in hospital, Terry realized how many of the cancer patients suffering in the wards were young children. He was compelled to do something and decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. His journey from Newfoundland to British Columbia was called the Marathon of Hope.
After 18 months and running over 5,000 km (3,107 miles) to prepare, Terry started his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980. At first, the Marathon of Hope had little attention, but that did not stop Terry from his journey to run across Canada. Each day, Terry would wake up at 4:30 a.m. in the morning to run a marathon (literally) every day—approximately 42 km (26 miles) to be exact. Although it was difficult to garner attention in the beginning, enthusiasm soon grew. Terry’s fundraising campaign began bringing in more money collected along his route, which was all donated to support cancer research.
For 143 days, Terry ran a total of 5373 km (3339 miles), until September 1st when he was forced to stop running outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs.
Although Terry wasn’t able to complete his journey across Canada, the impact of his Marathon of Hope was felt across the nation. When the news was announced that he could no longer continue the run, everyone was not just stunned, but saddened by the news. Eventually, Terry passed away on June 28, 1981 at the age of 22, but his legacy was just beginning.
Every second Sunday after Labour Day in September, Canadians participate in the Terry Fox Run to fundraise and raise awareness. This year, the event is today (Sept 19th) and my family participated by going on a 30-km bike ride and made a donation to the foundation. I will be writing about Terry Fox’s story in my upcoming October edition of ‘Hold On‘ to honour this Canadian hero.
If you’ll like to donate to this cancer charity or to learn more about Terry Fox, check out terryfox.org for more details.
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