A legacy of hope

September 30, 2012
Thirty-two years ago, on April 12, 1980, 21-year-old Terry Fox started out on his “Marathon of Hope” – a cross-Canada run to raise awareness and money for cancer research. A cancer survivor himself, the amputee runner was keenly aware of the need for more in the battle against the disease.

Terry was forced to abandon his trek when the cancer returned, having run 143 days and 5,373 kilometres from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

I have a particular memory of Terry Fox. In 1980, my wife Lorraine, daughter Corinna and I were travelling by car from Edmonton to Toronto, and passed Terry on the northern Ontario highway. Shortly after we passed, my cousin Janet’s husband, a doctor in Thunder Bay, was called out to examine him. It was he who confirmed that the cancer had returned and the run was over. At the time his wife, my cousin, in Thunder Bay was also in cancer’s insidious grasp and later succumbed.

A telethon held after Terry was forced to abandon his run raised $10 million for cancer research. Before his June 1981 death, donations had passed the $23 million target. The first Terry Fox Run, in September 1981, was held as a memorial. In the years since, thousands have participated across Canada and around the world, raising almost $500 million for cancer research, bringing Terry’s dream of a cure for cancer closer.

Terry had that Canadian spirit of perseverance, of determination and dedication that is a mark of many successful people in this country. Canadians dream big, aim for lofty goals and work hard to achieve them.

Terry Fox showed that what sometimes seems impossible can be achieved with determination and effort. A monument of Terry on Parliament Hill attests to his courage and is an inspiration to us all.

What do you think?