GUEST COLUMN: Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope made lasting impact

Canadian figure skater Dylan Moscovitch leads students at Holy Trinity in warm-up exercises prior to the school’s Terry Fox Run in September of 2016. The Olympic silver medalist was visiting to help the city school celebrate it meeting the Ontario gold standard for physical activity, mental health and healthy eating. Glenn Ogilvie file photo

Allan Shaw

One person who has been an inspiration to me and many others around the world is Terry Fox.

At age 19, Terry had his right leg amputated for a cancerous tumour.  In recovery, running soon turned into his passion.

Spurred on by the suffering children he witnessed in the cancer clinic, he decided he would run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He needed a great deal of support to make his Marathon of Hope a reality in the summer of 1980.

He found some financial support from sponsors, but also the direct, daily help of his best friend Doug Alward, his brother Darryl, and Bill Vigars, the Canadian Cancer Society’s manager of public relations.

I remember vividly following his progress each day on the news, along with millions of other Canadians. Though he had to stop the Marathon short of his goal, it was very inspiring to me.

All this was happening right when I was a teenager and trying to figure out who I was, and what things were important. Seeing a person give his whole heart and soul to a single pursuit every day had a big influence, and it has impacted me over all these years.

Terry Fox asked if he was bitter after learning the cancer had spread to both his lungs. He responded: “I’m not bitter at anybody or anything. To me I’m happy with what I’ve done, I’ve done my best, that’s all I can say. You make your own opinion on what you think I’ve done.”

Of course, most Canadians share the belief that what he accomplished was so remarkable it’s hard to believe he did it.  In 143 days, he ran 3,339 miles and raised just more than $10 million.

And his legacy continues through the annual Terry Fox Run. Total donations to the Terry Fox Foundation have now surpassed $800 million, and the resulting research has saved thousands and thousands of lives.

This September the communities of Sarnia-Lambton participated in virtual Terry Fox Runs in large numbers, and once again donated generously.

The funds raised will help continue the legacy of Terry, Doug, Darryl, Bob and all those who made the Marathon of Hope possible back in that hot, humid summer of 1980.

Allan Shaw is a retired secondary school Guidance Department Head and past Terry Fox Run School Co-ordinator at St. Christopher and LCCVI in Petrolia.