Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but he was raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. When he was a teen, Terry Fox was very much involved in various sports, but at the age of 18, he was diagnosed with bone cancer, and had to have his right leg amputated above the knee. Right before the operation, Terry read about an amputee who had completed the New York Marathon. He was moved by the man’s courage and determination, and this story ended up being one of the main motivations behind Terry’s ambitious Marathon of Hope. In 1980, he began the Marathon of Hope, a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research. Fox hoped to raise one dollar for each of Canada’s 24 million people.
He began with little fanfare from St. John’s, Newfoundland, in April and ran the equivalent of a full marathon every day. Fox had become a national star by the time he reached Ontario; he made numerous public appearances with businessmen, athletes, and politicians in his efforts to raise money. He was forced to end his run outside of Thunder Bay when the cancer spread to his lungs. His hopes of overcoming the disease and completing his marathon ended when he died nine months later.
Terry never finished his run, stopping near Thunder Bay, Ontario after running 5373 kilometers over 143 days worn out and in need of medical attention as his cancer reappeared in his lungs. Terry passed away at the age of 22 on June 28, 1981. Year 1981 witnessed the first Annual Terry Fox Run, it has involved millions of participants in over 60 countries and presently it is the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research; over C$500 million has been raised in his name.
Fox was the youngest person ever named a Companion of the Order of Canada. He won the 1980 Lou Marsh Award as the nation’s top sportsman and was named Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year in both 1980 and 1981. Considered a national hero, he has had many buildings, roads and parks named in his honor across the country.
“Everybody seems to have given up hope of trying. I haven’t. It isn’t easy and it isn’t supposed to be, but I’m accomplishing something. How many people give up a lot to do something good. I’m sure we would have found a cure for cancer 20 years ago if we had really tried”
-Fox speaking outside of Ottawa.
Today Fox has become immortal, with a number of statues being carved, he is alive in the heart of millions.
Today movies are being made about Terry. Books have been written. Roads are named after him. Schools and Hospitals are named after him. Terry is the burning example that it does not take various lifetimes to leave a mark, but a single life spent doing something extraordinary. Terry was an ordinary human being with an extraordinary heart. Even though he lived for a short period of 22 years, he did something so great to be remembered for the decades to come.