This year was the 31st annual Terry Fox Run. Just over 3 decades ago, Terry Fox - a 21 year-old from British Columbia set out to do the impossible. He was going to run across Canada, from Newfoundland to B.C. to raise awareness and money for cancer research. What was even more astounding was that Terry was running with a prosthetic leg having had his right leg amputated 2 years earlier after he was diagnosed with bone cancer.
Why didn’t he just run across B.C.? His mom asked him the same question. He responded by saying it had to be the whole country because it wasn’t just people in B.C. that were being affected by cancer.
On April 12, 1980, Terry dipped his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of Canada in St. John’s Newfoundland and began his journey, aptly named The Marathon of Hope. He ran an average of 42 km or 26 miles a day – a full marathon – through rain, gale force winds, and even snow. Before people really understood what he was trying to do, he also braved drivers that tried to run him off the road. It was a grueling journey - both mentally and physically.
In 143 days, he ran 5 373 km through six provinces – Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. By the time he reached Ontario, his efforts were known nationwide and his amazing spirit was being celebrated as Canadians cheered him on from town to town. Sadly, his indomitable spirit was hiding the fact that he was in increasing amounts of pain. On September 1, 1980, he was forced to stop his run because the cancer had returned, but this time in his lungs. He entered treatment immediately, but passed away on June 28, 1981 at the age of 22.
Terry’s heroic determination united our country; Canadians from every province and territory were inspired by his compassion, selflessness, and belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
Before our school Terry Fox Run, Division 1 dedicated some time towards thinking of the best words to describe Terry Fox, his efforts, and his legacy. As we continued to learn about him, we also learned that most of us personally know someone who has been affected by cancer. Through Terry’s eyes and our own personal experience, each of us discovered what was going to motivate us on this year’s run.