Terry Fox

Terry Fox Photo

Known for his dedication as an athlete and cancer research activist, Terrance Stanley Fox was born on July 28, 1958, in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Betty and Rolland Fox. Fox grew up with three siblings and the importance of virtue and good manners was inculcated in the children from the beginning.

Right from his childhood, Terry Fox displayed a profound passion for sports, especially for basketball. Despite the fact that he was often told to pursue running in place of basketball, he was determined to succeed and devoted his entire summer vacations, practicing as much as he could. Even though his height which was only five feet, made it difficult for him to be naturally good at basketball, it was his resolve to succeed which landed him a spot in his high school basketball team. Alongside that, he also won the title of “Best Athlete” in grade twelve. After high school, he enrolled himself in the Simon Fraser University where he took up studying kinesiology and aspired to become a physical education teacher

In 1976, while driving back home Fox crashed into the back of a pickup truck and despite his totaled car, he managed to survive the crash with only a bruised knee. He began experiencing persistent pain in his knee but managed to ignore it till the end of basketball season. However, the pain soon became intolerable and he went to the hospital where in 1977, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Doctors at that time told him he would have to have his leg amputated and undergo chemotherapy and that he had a 50 percent chance of survival.

Within three weeks of his amputation, Fox was walking with the aid of an artificial leg and soon resumed his activities before the accident. He refused to be daunted by his amputation and by 1979 he completed a marathon spanning over 42 km. During his stay in the hospital he was distressed by how little research had been carried out regarding cancer and its treatment. He also read about Dick Traum who completed the New York City an amputee. This made him determined to run a cross country marathon in Canada in hope to gain funds which would be directed for the sole purpose of cancer research. He started training for it and soon in 1980; he embarked on his marathon, calling it, “Marathon of Hope”. He enlisted the support of the “Canadian Cancer Society” as well as many corporate firms for sponsorships.

Terry Fox started his marathon from St. John’s and would run for approximately 43 km every day. In the beginning he was met with lukewarm response and harsh weather but his arrival at Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, culminated into more than 10,000 dollars’ worth of donation which gave him the motivation he needed to continue with his dream. By the time he made it to Ontario, the whole country was rooting for him and he was deemed as a national star. Unfortunately, Fox’s disease made him stop running just before he arrived in Thunder Bay, in 1980. By now, the cancer had found its way to his lungs and he had to be admitted to the hospital where he died in 1981 at the age of 23.

Fox ran for 143 days, covering a total of 5,373 km and managed to raise over $24 million in 1981. The Terry Fox Foundation still continues to generate funds for cancer research, carrying on Fox’s legacy. Fox was granted second place as “The Greatest Canadian” in 2004 and has many parks and buildings named after him.

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