Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but raised in Port Coquitlam, BC, a community near Vancouver on Canada’s West Coast. An active teenager involved in many sports, Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer and forced to have his right leg amputated six inches above the knee in 1977.
The night before his operation, Terry read an article about an amputee who had competed in the New York Marathon. That story, along with Terry’s observations of the intense suffering of cancer patients, set the stage for what would ultimately become the most important decision of his young life.
In 1980, Terry Fox inspired the nation by attempting to run across Canada on an artificial leg. He called this quest the Marathon of Hope. His mission was to raise money and awareness for cancer research in Canada.
With little fanfare, Terry started his journey in St. Johns Newfoundland, on April 12, 1980. Although it was difficult to garner attention in the beginning, enthusiasm soon grew, and the money collected along his route began to mount. He ran 42km per day through Canada’s Atlantic provinces,and into Quebec and Ontario.
It was a journey that Canadians never forgot.
However, On September 1st, after 143 days and 5,373km, Terry was forced to stop his run outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because the cancer had reappeared in his lungs. An entire nation was saddened. Terry passed away on June 28, 1981 at age 22.
The heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy was just beginning.
To date, over $550 million worldwide has been raised for cancer research in Terry’s name.