Sunday 21 August 2016

Terry Fox: Marathon of Hope

He dipped his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean early on that morning in April of 1980.  His battle was cancer.  His goal was to run from Newfoundland to British Columbia, across the entire country.  Twenty- six miles a day, seven days a week for the duration of his trip -- that's a marathon every single day.  As he ran along the highway, he developped a certain gait as he shifted from his natural leg to artificial one.  Passersby were curious as to who he was; but as they got to about him and his story, they would wave or shout words of encouragement.  For those who didn't know him, they would give an impatient honk.  

Terry made his way through the Maritime provinces without a hitch.  But in Quebec, it was a different story.  The Quebec Provincial Police didn't want to let him run on the highway.  Terry's response?  Don't people in Quebec get cancer too?  At the Ontario border, Terry was joined by a police escort for the first time.  In Ottawa he met with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  In Toronto, he shook the hand of NHL player Darryl Sittler.  People lined the main street of Hamilton as he passed by.  

Terry Fox's route circa 1980 courtesy 

With most of Ontario at his back, Terry looked forward to crossing the Prairies.  However, just outside of Thunder Bay, he started to tire.  He took the time to swim with a young cancer survivor in Lake Superior.  He developped a nasty cough and realized he couldn't go on:  the cancer had come back.  One hundred and forty three days had passed since he left Newfoundland.  He had logged 5, 373 kilometres.  Nine months later, the Canadian hero passed away.

While Terry's run was over, his legacy would continue.  His goal was to raise $1 for every Canadian at a time when our population sat at $24.  The Marathon of Hope, now called The Terry Fox Run held every September, has far surpassed this goal, raising over $700 million for cancer research.  

Note:  The St. Jacob's County Playhouse is staging Terry Fox:  The Musical from October 5 to 30 to honour the contribution this young man gave to his country (

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