When it comes to positive iconic figureheads, Terry Fox and the Herculean efforts he put forth to raise awareness and money to battle cancer have to be at the top of a lot of peoples’ lists for what should define the word ‘hero’. Born in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1958, Fox was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma in his right leg when he was 19 years old. As a result, the leg had to be amputated six inches (15 centimeters) above the knee. The night before the surgery, Terry read a story about an amputee runner, and the seeds of an idea were planted for what would eventually become the Marathon of Hope.
Did You Know?
- Fox loved sports, but was never a stand-out player on school teams. The coach of his grade 8 basketball team suggested Terry try cross-country running.
- He was studying physical education at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia when he was given his cancer diagnosis.
- After his stay in hospital Terry wanted to bring more attention to cancer and how it affected so many lives and families.
- He trained for a year for what would become the Marathon of Hope, eventually running 2,982 miles (4,800 kilometers) while telling his family he was preparing for the Vancouver Marathon.
- Terry ran across Canada for 143 days, almost completing a marathon on every day.
- On September 1, 1980, Terry’s cancer spread to his lungs, forcing him to stop running and resume chemotherapy.
- The twenty-two year-old passed away on June 28, 1981. Three months later the first Terry Fox Run took place. 300,000 people took part and raised $3.5 million.
- Terry Fox Runs now raise funds for cancer research and awareness in over 40 countries. To date, over $700 million has been raised.
- Amongst other honors, a statue of Terry stands in front of Parliament Hill in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa and over a dozen schools across the country bear his name.