Terry Fox is one of Canada’s heroes and he became that against the odds.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Terry Fox was 22 years old in 1980 when he set out to run approximately 8,000 kilometres across Canada. This was a tremendous feat, and the fact that Fox planned to do so on one leg made his efforts even more remarkable. Terry’s other leg had been amputated six inches above the knee in 1977, so he relied on a prosthetic leg. His goal was to raise attention and money for cancer research.
Fox started the run when he dipped his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean off St. John’s, Newfoundland and filled two large bottles with ocean water. He intended to keep one as a souvenir and pour the other into the Pacific Ocean upon completing his journey at Victoria, British Columbia.
Terry had spent most of the previous year training, running more than 5,000 km to prepare for what would be called The Marathon of Hope. His aim, he wrote in his journal, was “26 miles (42 kilometres)” daily, the equivalent of a full marathon.
Midway through his marathon, however, Terry started to struggle with a persistent cough and other problems. On 1 September 1980, he was forced to stop. Tests confirmed that cancer had returned, and spread to his lungs.
By that point, his efforts had galvanised the country. He had run 5,373 km: the equivalent of more than 128 marathons in 143 days. A star-studded telethon on national television raised $10 million, and Fox was appointed to the Order of Canada the same month he stopped the run, the youngest person ever to receive the honour.
“Somewhere the hurting must stop,” Terry once wrote. But for him, it did not. On 28 June 1981, less than a year after ending his run, Fox died.
Terry’s accomplishment, against the odds, has resulted in almost $700 million being raised for an important cause.