Betty Fox, mother of Terry Fox, died on June 17. Above, she is seen (in white at left) after carrying the Olympic flag into BC Place during the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Games.

Betty Fox, mother of Terry Fox, died on June 17. Above, she is seen (in white at left) after carrying the Olympic flag into BC Place during the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Games.

Top Stories of 2011: Country mourns loss of Betty Fox

Betty Fox, mother of the late Terry Fox and longtime cancer crusader, passed away on June 17 from gastrointestinal bleeding.

A Chilliwack icon and Canadian hero died this past summer.

Betty Fox, mother of the late Terry Fox and longtime cancer crusader, passed away on June 17 from gastrointestinal bleeding.

News that Betty was seriously ill first broke two weeks prior to her death. However, media reports that stated she had cancer were incorrect.

While the Fox family did not immediately disclose Betty’s illness, they did post a statement on the Fox Foundation website notifying the world that Betty was seriously ill.

On the morning of June 17, a second statement was posted on the website.

“Betty … passed away peacefully surrounded by love,” the statement read.

She was 73.

For more than 30 years Betty was the fireball behind the Terry Fox Run and later the foundation, encouraging, inspiring, pushing the world to continue her son’s dream of eradicating cancer. She quit her job, traveled the world, listened to stories, shed tears, shaved her head, and was selected to be a flag bearer among other Canadian celebrities for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics – all in the name of her son.

For many, Betty Fox was not just a cancer crusader, she was a hero.

When news of her illness came out, numerous messages of hope and thanks were posted to the Terry Fox Foundation website.

Her funeral, held on June 25 in Port Coquitlam, attracted so many mourners, a second location was opened where the funeral proceedings were viewed via video streaming. Some of the mourners included long-time family friend and paralympian Rick Hansen, Premier Christy Clark, and Vanoc CEO John Furlong.

Rolly Fox, the quiet gentleman who stood beside his wife for so many years as she spoke to crowds, is keeping the cause alive.

In September, Rolly’s first interview since Betty’s passing, he told Black Press that while he didn’t have the gift of gab, and didn’t see himself replacing Betty as a speaker, he would do whatever was asked of him.

“I won’t back down on anything that I’m asked to do [by the foundation],” he said. “If I’m asked to go here or there, I won’t say no to anything.”

To date, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $500 million for cancer research.

~ with files from Janis Warren, Tri-City News

kbartel@theprogress.com

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