Â Â Â While a lot of university students may be too young to remember when Terry Fox set out on his legendary journey in 1980, his story resonates strongly almost 30 years later, with over $400 million for cancer research raised in his name.
Fox was born in Winnipeg, Man., and raised in Port Coquitlam, B.C. After losing his right leg to cancer at 18, Fox was deeply touched by the suffering of other cancer patients during his time in the hospital and decided to do something about it.Â
Following intense training, he set out on what would forever be known as the Marathon of Hope, to raise money and awareness for cancer research.Â
If someone ever told him that one person can’t make a difference, Fox clearly was not swayed by it. On April 12, 1980, Fox’s epic journey began when he dipped his prosthetic leg in the Atlantic Ocean at St. John’s, N.L.
Â Â Â After running almost an entire marathon every day, Terry began to capture the hearts of millions of people across Canada. Soon he was being greeted with a hero’s welcome, with people lining the streets to show their support.
On Sept. 1, 1980 after running 5,373 kilometres, Fox was forced to stop his journey outside of Thunder Bay, Ont., when his cancer spread to his lungs, breaking the hearts of an entire country in a single crushing moment.
Ten months later, on June 28, 1981, Canada lost a great hero when Fox passed away at the age of 22, but Fox’s legacy would forever live on in the hearts of Canadians.
Â Â Â If Fox could only see what his movement has accomplished, he would be moved.
Every year tens of thousands of people across Canada and the world participate in the Terry Fox Run. In an event with no competition or prizes, participants leave feeling that they have helped accomplish what Fox so courageously began. In Saskatoon, the Terry Fox Run is held in early September, drawing hundreds of people together and bringing in much needed funds to help win the fight against cancer.
Â Â Fox’s story has grown to be a Canadian legend and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has never heard his name. In 2005, Fox became the first person other than royalty to be displayed on a regular circulation Canadian coin. He also has a Canadian coast guard icebreaker named after him and was voted the second greatest Canadian of all time on CBC’s reality show The Greatest Canadian.
So maybe it’s more than just a run for cancer. Maybe it’s a showing of the strength and determination of the human soul, and it just might provide the inspiration for the next wave of home-grown humanitarians because it’s pretty obvious we could use any help we can get. Fox’s story shows us that no matter how bad we think things are, we have so many good things that we need to appreciate while we still can.
As Fox put it, “I remember promising myself that, should I live, I would rise up to meet this new challenge face to face and prove myself worthy of life, something too many people take for granted.”
photo via Flickr