Sep

15

The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince. — Vince Lombardi

When you get older you think you have pretty much seen everything, heard everything and discussed all you need to discuss and then you come across a story that makes you just have to sit back, open your mouth and say "Wow". This evening was such a time.

I witnessed the greatest display of courage and character that I have ever seen, or heard of in my entire life. Today I saw a short documentary of Terry Fox. Unless you are a Canadian citizen or a cancer survivor chances are you have never heard of Terry Fox.

Terrance Stanley "Terry" Fox, CC (July 28, 1958 - June 28, 1981) was a Canadian humanitarian, athlete, and cancer treatment activist. He became famous for his Marathon of Hope, a cross-Canada run to raise money for cancer research, running with only one leg. He is considered one of Canada's greatest heroes of the 20th Century and is celebrated internationally every September as people participate in the 'Terry Fox Run', the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research.

Terry was born in 1958 in Winnipeg, Man. A few years later his family moved to Port Coquitlam, B.C. As a kid, Terry was always enthusiastic about sports, even when he was the worst player on his Grade 8 basketball team. A teacher encouraged him to go out for cross-country running, a sport in which he had little interest. But Fox was determined to be better and to please his coach.

Terry Fox was 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer). At that time, a common treatment for this type of cancer was amputation and Terry had his right leg removed six inches above his knee. It was also during this time that he became determined to do something to prevent people from going through what he did. Terry decided he wanted to help find a cure for cancer.

Knowing that cancer research was severely under-funded in Canada, Terry decided to run across the country to raise money, and awareness, for cancer research. He called his journey the Marathon of Hope.

When he began training, he kept his dream a secret. He told his family he was training for the Vancouver Marathon. The beginning was tough. He spent most of his time falling down and picking himself off the floor. He kept going, though, and after more than a year, and over 4,800 kilometres of running, he announced his plans to his family. He said his goal was to collect $1 for every person living in the country - at the time Canada had a population of about 24 million.

With fierce determination, Terry started his fund raising journey on April 12, 1980 in St John's, Newfoundland. Terry ran 42 kilometres (26 miles) every day for 143 days but was forced to stop running in Thunder Bay, Ontario when Terry began to notice chest pains. That amounted to 3339 miles total.

Terry was sent to a hospital in B.C. where doctors discovered the source of his chest pains: cancer had spread to his lungs. The Marathon of Hope would have to go on without him. In the months that followed, donations kept coming.

By February, 1981 Terry's wish of raising one dollar from every Canadian was realized - the Marathon of Hope fund totalled $24.17 million.

Terry died of cancer in June, 1981 at age 22.

The most important legacy of Terry Fox has to be the hundreds of millions of dollars raised for cancer research by him and in his name. Part of the research has gone into improving treatments including that of the cancer that ultimately killed Fox. Children who now are diagnosed with osteosarcoma will rarely have amputations, and their lifespans have been greatly increased.

The other lasting legacy of Terry Fox has been the creation of an annual international charity run that raises money for cancer research. The Terry Fox Run was established a few years after his death and has raised hundreds of millions around the world.

On March 14, 2005, Terry Fox became the first Canadian whose image has appeared on a general-circulation Canadian coin. He is pictured on the reverse of the Terry Fox commemorative $1 coin, wearing his Marathon of Hope T-shirt. The detail on his face shows his determination and anguish as he ran the equivalent of a full marathon daily. The Queen occupies her usual place on the other side of the coin. By September 2005, an estimated 20 million of the coins had been produced.

In summary, if you ever have a dream which may be on a grand scale but are afraid to go beyond the discussion stage, think on Terry Fox and realize that nothing is impossible to those who have the dream, the desire and the commitment to see it through.


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