Terry Fox legacy reaches 30 years and $500 million for cancer research

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Thirty years ago Terry Fox dipped his artificial leg in the chilly waters off St. John's with the dream of raising $1 million for cancer research.
The three-decade legacy of his "Marathon of Hope" and the $500 million raised since then would have been unimaginable for him, said Terry's older brother Fred Fox.
Terry's dream started small when he launched his run on April 12, 1980, with a goal of raising $1 million for cancer research by running a marathon a day until he made it across Canada.
"I think Terry would be so proud - he could never - none of us could have ever imagined that I'd be speaking to you today 30 years later," said Fox. "He wanted to make a difference in other peoples' lives and could never have imagined that he would still be having that impact on people 30 years later."
It was when his marathon took him through Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, that Terry changed his goal to raising $24 million, or one dollar for the then-population of Canada.
The 10,000 residents of Port aux Basques had raised $10,000 for his cause.
He made it as far as Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he had to end his run.
The image of his media interview from a hospital gurney still induces tears.
"The cancer has spread and now I've got cancer in my lungs," he told reporters. "And ah, all I can say if there's anyway I can get out there and finish it I will," he said before being wheeled away.
He had every intention of finishing the marathon, Fred Fox said, adding it was his brother's stubborn nature that got him through the punishing daily 40 kilometres and his fight with cancer.
When Terry knew he wasn't going to get back on the road and he was approached about an annual run in September, Fox said his brother thought that would be a good way to continue his quest to find a cure for cancer.
"I can't imagine what it would have been like had he made it all the way home to British Columbia. That's another side of the story we'll never know," Fox said.
Would things have been different had Terry survived his battle with cancer?
"Probably," Fox said.
"But I think we'd still be doing what Terry wanted and finding a cure for cancer," he laughed.
Had he survived, he would have been 52 years old this July. But Fred Fox said people will always remember his brother as a 21-year-old kid running across the country.
"Terry didn't survive and that's part of the story. He gave his life for others in finding a cure for cancer."
The Terry Fox name adorns more than a dozen schools across the country, a mountain, and roads. People from 40 different countries run in his name every year and the Terry Fox Foundation is constantly funding to help find new cures for cancer.
And while his brother said Terry would have been proud of that, those kinds of acknowledgments and being called a hero weren't important to him.
"All that was important was raising money for cancer research and to find a cure for cancer."
The seed for the cross-Canada marathon started when Terry ran a race in Prince George, B.C., in 1979 and came in last.
Fox said when Terry proposed the cross Canada run to his mother Betty, she asked him why he couldn't just run through British Columbia with a start at the Alberta border.
"And Terry's answer was because not only people in B.C. get cancer, people right across the country do too and that's why I've got to run across the country."
Most of the Fox family, including Betty, his father Rolly, Fred and sister Judith, will be in St. John's Monday to mark the anniversary and hear an announcement concerning a research initiative.

Organizations: Terry Fox Foundation, Cross-Canada

Geographic location: Canada, St. John's, Port aux Basques British Columbia Newfoundland Thunder Bay Ontario Prince George Alberta B.C.

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