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Jim Terrion: The million dollar man
By Teresa Mallam/Prince George Free Press
Jim Terrion Jr. lives in a silent world but he marches to his own drum.
Terrion, 52, was born deaf.
He communicates mostly by writing down what he wants to say or by using sign language. It can be a frustrating and slow process. Especially for new people he meets on the street or those who open their doors when he's out canvassing.
That has never stopped him though from raising whopping amounts of money for charity events and causes he holds dear to him like the annual Terry Fox Run.
Terrion raised $3,963 in Prince George in pledges from the local run this month even though he was in his former home, Prince Rupert, taking part in its fundraising event. He raised money for them too.
"Jim raised $24,730.25 in 23 days in Prince Rupert," said his proud mother, Faye.
"That brings his fundraising total to date – since he first started his walks in 1990 – to a grand total of $584,557.80. I think that's quite an accomplishment."
Indeed, it would be exceptional for any person but Terrion is dealing with a disability. In 1990 he walked across Canada and back, 6,300 miles in eight months, on a fundraising mission to raise awareness for people with hearing disabilities.
He continues to challenge himself every day. That has made him try even harder and set his sights even higher.
"He was walking through Saskatchewan years ago in temperatures of minus 45 degrees and the driver asked him to stop, he wouldn't stop. He just kept on going. He always pushes himself to do more. That hasn't changed."
In one day, on August 7, 1990, he logged 100 kilometres. In his journal, Terrion wrote that he got up at five or six in the morning and "never stopped" until dark.
Just as on that wintry day, over 20 years ago, Terrion now has a new goal in mind.
The reporter asks him, "how much do you want to raise for the Terry Fox Run?"
He holds up one finger, smiles, and mouths the words: "One million dollars."
He shows the reporter a tall filing cabinet where he keeps in neatly organized folders, facts, figures and letters, dated newspaper clippings of his walks, awards, and – most importantly to him – the amount of money he's raised.
Inspired by his childhood hero, Terry Fox, who overcame adversity to run marathons across Canada and motivate people to support cancer research, Terrion is getting recognized for his fundraising efforts.
On the wall, is a framed portrait of Fox given to him by the family and Terry Fox Foundation. He also has numerous plaques, certificates and a signed picture from his friend Rick Hansen, a bronzed running shoe, a momento of his walk on behalf of the deaf community.
His most prized possession? A photo of him dropping the puck in Vancouver on Oct. 29, 2011 at a Canucks game.
"Jim was about 12 when we got him into the Jericho Hill School for the Deaf in Vancouver," said Faye.
"We knew something was wrong. We took him first for testing and eventually our MLA in Prince Rupert stepped in and we saw a specialist in Victoria.
"When he was a young boy, people actually thought he was retarded because he could not communicate."
Soon they knew the truth.
"We found out he has normal hearing in his outer ear, so he can hear a beeping car horn or if I clap loud enough, he can hear that. The problem is he has 95 per cent hearing loss in his inner ear which controls the speech and language."
Terrion graduated school in 1980. He began training for his first walk in 1977, hoping to raise awareness about the many challenges facing deaf and hearing impaired people.
During his time walking and raising money and awareness, Terrion has made friends all over the world. He shows the reporter postcards from friends in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. He can't wait to get to Brunei, Malaysia for the Terry Fox Run Day in November 2015.
Even for him, that's a big trip. His goal is set and he can't wait to go. 2015 can't come soon enough.
"I'm so proud of him," she says, glancing around the house that speaks volumes about Terrion's giving spirit and dauntless courage.