Terry Fox is one of the most prominent figures in all of Canada. In 1977, 18-year-old Terry Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer and gave up his right leg to prevent the spread of the disease. After 14 months of training, Terry convinced the Canadian Cancer Society to help sponsor his run across Canada to raise funds and awareness for cancer research.
On April 12th 1980, Terry dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean and began his Marathon of Hope across Canada. Averaging approximately 26 miles per day, Terry continued the Run for 143 days as the country watched with bated breath. On September 1st 1980, Terry was just outside Thunder Bay, Ontario, when he felt sharp pains in his chest. The cancer he thought that he had conquered had instead spread to his lungs. He returned to Vancouver for more treatments, but lost his battle with cancer on June 28th 1981, exactly one month shy of his 23rd birthday.
Canadians wanted desperately for Terry to live to win his personal battle against the ravages of cancer. Yet it does not occur to any of us to look upon his death as a defeat or failure…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.
Although Terry did not complete his Marathon, his Run had raised $24.2 million for cancer research while also becoming an inspiration to millions of people worldwide. Terry Fox has received numerous honours – including the Order of Canada, a postage stamp, several memorials, schools, a mountain and an HBO movie – but his greatest legacy is the annual Terry Fox Run which is held in cities across Canada and around the world.
To date, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over 600 million dollars for cancer research. There has also been a Canadian one-dollar coin minted with the image of Terry – the first time that a Canadian figure has been featured on a coin. Terry was also featured as one of CBC’s “Greatest Canadians”, and is the subject of multiple books covering his short but fulfilling life.