Terry Fox and The Marathon of Hope – 40 Years Later

Message from the Chair
August 1st, 2020

By Tom Mayenknecht

All of us associated with the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame are storytellers. The Hall itself aspires to be the consummate storyteller of BC sport history, heritage and culture. It does so on the strength of: its website; more than 127,000 artifacts, photographs and documents; a series of galleries, exhibits and displays at our venue at BC Place in downtown Vancouver; radio and television interviews; and public appearances and presentations made by Honoured Members; along with curriculum design and education programs such as the Hero in You.

Everything we do is intended to support storytelling and allow us to reach more people, in BC, across Canada and around the world. By expanding that reach, we are realizing our mission of honouring the past and inspiring the future.

To that end, there is no story more inspiring than Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope.
I say that on the 40th anniversary year of his courageous run of 143 consecutive marathons, from St. John’s, Nfld. on April 12th, 1980 to Thunder Bay, Ont., where he was forced to abandon the Marathon of Hope on September 1st, 1980.

I say that in the days after July 28th, which would have marked his 62nd birthday.

And I say it four years after Terry’s story was named the most golden moment in B.C. sport history in a comprehensive online poll. That’s saying something considering the rich sport history of BC; from pre-First World War tennis player Bobby Powell and track-and-field Olympian Percy Williams to track star Harry Jerome and the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954 to the pioneering careers of Nancy Green and Karen Magnussen. Terry’s Marathon of Hope even surpassed the many stories of Canadian achievement at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, including the golden goal by Sidney Crosby.

That special connection to Terry stands the test of time largely because his story is so timeless. The connection is strong because of what Terry taught all of us about dedicating ourselves to a cause; in his case the pursuit of a cure for cancer. The bonds are so durable because of how his Marathon of Hope transformed fund-raising, in Canada and around the world, where Terry Fox Runs happen in more than 20 countries each and every year. We respect how his Foundation has raised more than $800 million in 40 years, more than eclipsing Terry’s original goal of $23 million or $1 for every Canadian at the time.

As the Terry Fox Research Institute and Terry Fox Foundation collaborate on a special milestone — the launch of the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centre Network in 2020 — we’re committed to doing our part to recognize his monumental legacy and keep his story alive for future generations of Canadians.

We shared tears with Terry’s youngest brother Darrell last September when we reiterated that the Marathon of Hope was a defining moment in BC sport history. We will be smiling that “Terry Fox smile” this Wednesday when Darrell and Terry’s niece Alexandra speak to you at our next Inspiring the Future web event. And we will beam with pride when Terry’s Métis heritage is featured in our new round of Hero in You learning modules to be produced this fall.

Every step of the way, we will be telling the Terry Fox story in a fashion that lives up to his remarkable legacy of courage, determination and sense of purpose. Simply put, that is our own privileged purpose and one that we will endeavour to carry out in a way that reminds future generations that Terry Fox is yet another reason why we’re so proud to be British Columbians and Canadians.

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and host of The Sport Market on TSN Radio, he is a strong advocate for the KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder.