Terry Fox – The Greatest Canadian
On September 2, 1980, Terry Fox was forced to end his courageous Marathon of Hope just outside of Thunder Bay, ON after running for 143 days and covering 5, 373 kilometers across Canada. Terry’s campaign to raise cancer awareness and overcome the disease came to an end when he died nine months later on June 28, 1981.
Terry’s Marathon of Hope began with little fan fair when he dipped his prosthetic leg into the Atlantic Ocean near St. John’s Nfld on April 12, 1980. By the time he reached the Ontario boarder Terry had reached rock star status as thousands of Ontarian’s lined the streets in support of his efforts. Among the supporters was Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr who presented Terry with a personal cheque for $25, 000. Terry considered meeting the great Bruins defenceman as the highlight of his journey of hope. By the time Terry’s cancer had spread to his lungs and was forced to abandon his efforts, his Marathon of Hope had raised $1.7 million. One week later CTV held a telethon that raised another $10.5 million in support of Terry and the Canadian Cancer Society.
Terry’s influence around the world was so prominent that as his health worsened and his fait became imminent Pope John Paul II sent Terry a telegram informing Terry he was praying for him. When Terry died, the Government of Canada ordered all flags across the country lowered to half mast and Prime Minister Trudeau addressed the House of Commons stating, “It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death….We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.”
Since Terry’s death, the annual Terry Fox Run has become the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research while raising more than $500 million. Tomorrow is the 30th running of the Terry Fox Run, which coincides with the T.V. premier of Into the Wind on TSN 2 co-directed by British Columbian and NBA star Steve Nash. This film celebrates the life of Terry Fox while addressing his state of mind and thoughts and reflections throughout his Marathon of Hope.
In 2004 Terry Fox finished second to Tommy Douglas in CBC’s campaign to determine The Greatest Canadian. With respect to the great efforts of Tommy Douglas and his creation of universal public health care, Terry Fox should have been declared The Greatest Canadian. Terry was everything a good Canadian should be. Intelligent, driven, dedicated, passionate, humble and inspiring are only a handful of adjectives that consummate the person that was Terry Fox. His legacy must not and will not ever die for he is The Greatest Canadian.