"I'm not special." -- Terry Fox

Voted Canada's Greatest Hero in a national survey conducted in 1999, Terrance Stanley Fox of Port Coquitlam was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on July 28, 1958. Athletic as a youth, he was encouraged by a magazine article brought to his bedside by his former basketball coach the night preceding the amputation of his leg six inches above the knee due to cancer in 1977. This article described an amputee who ran in the New York Marathon. "It was then I decided to meet this new challenge head on," Fox wrote, "and not only overcome my disability, but conquer it in such a way that I could never look back and say it disabled me."

Following 16 months of chemotherapy treatments, Terry Fox began rigorous training for a cross-Canada run to raise money for cancer research. "I'm not a dreamer," he wrote to Canadian Cancer Society. Fox dipped his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John's Newfoundland on April 12, 1980, commencing his Marathon of Hope. He ran 5,373 kilometres in 143 days, reaching Thunder Bay by averaging 42 kilometres (26 miles) per day through six provinces. He was forced to stop running on September 1, 1980 because his primary cancer had spread to his lungs. "When I started this Run," he told a press conference, I said that if we all gave one dollar, we'd have $22 million for cancer research, and I don't care, man, there's no reason that isn't possible."

The following day, the Fox family received a telegram from Isadore Sharp, chairman and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, pledging to organize an annual fundraising run in Terry Fox's name. CTV quickly organized a five-hour telethon that raised $10 million. At a ceremony held in his home, Terry Fox became the youngest-ever recipient of the Order of Canada on September 18. A month later he received the Order of the Dogwood, British Columbia's highest civilian honour. One month after that, the American Cancer Society presented him with the Sword of Hope. And the following month he received the Lou Marsh Award for outstanding accomplishment in Canadian sports. Canadian Press declared Terry Fox was Canadian of the Year. By February of 1981, the Marathon of Hope initiative had reached its objective--$1 for every Canadian--with donations reaching $24.17 million for 24.1 million people.

Terry Fox died at Royal Columbia Hospital in New Westminster on June 28, 1981.


Run (Penguin, 2003). By Eric Walters. Foreword by the Fox family.

[BCBW 2004] "Sports"