Friday, August 2, 2013

The Inspiration of Terry Fox

If you don’t know who Terry Fox is—and you are a runner—I want you to Google him right now. Read up on him and then come back. I will wait.  *whistles*  Or click here.

Back already?  OK, good.

Since most of you didn’t do that, I will fill you in briefly. Terry Fox was a young Canadian who was diagnosed with cancer back in the late 1970s. He had to have his left leg removed, but it appeared that he had beaten the disease. He then decided he was going to run the entire length of Canada—on one leg—with the hopes of raising millions of dollars for cancer research. In case you missed that, he planned to run approximately 5,000 miles on one leg. Now 1980, the year Fox took on this challenge, was not exactly the Stone Ages, but running prosthetic from back then were still light years away from what they are today.

Unfortunately, Terry did not finish his run, but not because of being tired or getting injured. Outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario, a coughing fit overtook Terry.  Going to the hospital, Terry soon found out the cancer had returned and was more aggressive than before. He had run 3,339 miles in 142 days (an average of 23.5 miles a day). He wouldn’t run again.

Recently, I have read a few books on Terry. I recently rewatched the ESPN 30 for 30 special on Fox called Into the Wind. (Sidenote: I am unsure if the producers of this film realized how literal the title was. When researching a cross-country run a few years ago, I talked to some noted runners who had done such a thing. I asked why virtually all the of the runs were done west to east. "Setting sun and prevailing winds at your back for 3,000 miles versus the opposite" was one answer.)  It has been nothing short of uplifting to hear what Fox did by overcoming insurmountable difficulties. Even now, more than 30 years after his death, he remains a national hero in Canada.

Terry’s goal was to raise $2 for every Canadian citizen or $44 million. When he was forced to quit his run he had raised about $1.2 million. Nevertheless, over $500 million dollars have been raised in his name, and the Terry Fox Run, which spans numerous regions and countries, is the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research.

All of this came from a little kid from Winnipeg. While Terry would ultimately succumb to cancer in June of 1981, his spirit lives on. That sounds cliché, but try talking about running to a Canadian and see how long you go before Terry Fox’s name comes up. With good reason, as well.

My point? Never underestimate what one person can do.

1 comment:

Richard River Run marathon said...

He was the FIRST Marathon Maniac. # 1. Proud to. Be a MM and a Canadian.