Marathon of Hope: 4,901 kilometre mark in Wawa, Ont. (Terry Fox Foundation photo)

Editorial: Terry Fox a Canadian icon of hope and perseverance

Thirty-nine years later and we're still running.

Terry Fox is someone that, to this day, is incredibly inspirational.

Just before the age of 20, Fox, an athletic young man, lost his right leg to cancer, but not his dreams of running. Rather than be defeated by what must have seemed a supremely unfair twist of fate, this man turned his misfortune into the will to fight. Just two years after losing his leg, Terry Fox started training for what he dubbed his Marathon of Hope, a planned run across Canada to raise money for cancer research and awareness.

It’s hard to believe today, but it started off with little fanfare on April 12 in 1980, when Fox dipped the artificial leg he would run on into the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Fox had run through five eastern provinces in a matter of months before hitting Ontario, and the headlines. By then, people had started to become aware of this incredibly brave young man’s dream, children and adults alike following his trek as he strove to fight his disease not just for himself, but all of those who have come after him.

Now, there is likely not a person in Canada who has not seen footage of Fox’s run, his lopsided gait taking him steadily down lonely stretches of Canadian highway. It is iconic, a part of who we are as a country and a people. Fox was, after all, one of the best of us.

Fox’s cancer once again reared its head in September of 1980, forcing him to stop running in Thunder Bay, Ont. There now stands a moving memorial to him on the spot that you should check out of you’re ever in the area.

In 1981, Terry Fox died, one month short of his 23rd birthday, but not before he saw his dream take off with the establishment of a fundraising run, and a telethon that raised $10 million.

Though his legacy has become larger than life, Fox and his story remains at the heart of it all. We’d argue that’s why it remains so meaningful, to this day. It started with the dream and determination, and most importantly, the heart of one man.

And it’s not just in Canada. Fox’s legacy has reached beyond the borders of our country, with Terry Fox Runs being conducted in about 25 countries around the world, inspired by his unparalleled determination and drive. Terry Fox has been successful beyond his wildest dreams.

It is fitting that school groups form the core of continuing the annual Terry Fox Run legacy. He is someone we should all look up to. Few represent a better role model.

Thirty-nine years later and we’re still running. A Marathon of Hope indeed.

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