Inspirational Story – Terry Fox, Canada’s Greatest Heroes

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ESPN brings you the inspirational story of one of Canada‘s greatest heroes, Terry Fox. Watch the video after the jump..

Terrance Stanley “Terry” Fox, CC (July 28, 1958 June 28, 1981) was a Canadian humanitarian, athlete, and cancer treatment activist. He became famous for the Marathon of Hope, a cross-Canada run to raise money for cancer research, which Fox ran with one prosthetic 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 fund raiser for cancer research.

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Biography

Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to Rolly and Betty Fox. He was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia and then moved to the family home on Morrill Street in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, with his brother Fred, his younger brother Darrell, and his sister Judith.

Sports

Four things were evident about him; first, he loved sports of all kinds – soccer, rugby union, baseball, and diving. Second, he was not tall, so he had to work harder than the bigger kids. Third, he was extremely competitive. Lastly, he had a huge amount of determination.

In junior high school, Fox loved basketball and wanted to play guard on the Mary Hill Cobras team. He was only 5 feet tall at the time and mediocre at the game. In order to achieve his goal, he spent every day practicing his basketball skills. By grade ten, he was one of the best guards. In senior high school he was a starting guard for the Port Coquitlam Ravens. Thus, he achieved his goal because of his determination. In grade eight, Bob Mcgill, his physical education teacher suggested Fox should try out for cross country running. At that time he completely had no interest in running but Terry started training anyway, because he had so much respect for his coach and wanted to please him. He found the running exhausting but at the end, his coach had called him a man. And he kept that to the end of his days.

In his teenage years, he won numerous medals in diving and swimming competitions, and impressed many people with his stamina and endurance. Though many of his instructors encouraged him to stay with water sports and train professionally, instead he pursued his dream of becoming a physical education teacher. After graduating with honours from Port Coquitlam Senior Secondary School (which was later renamed Terry Fox Secondary School in his honour), he studied kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. Fox was an active student at SFU and participated in a variety of on-campus clubs and groups.

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Crash

On November 12, 1976, Fox was driving back home along Port Coquitlam’s highway in his green 1968 Ford Cortina. He was distracted by a bridge construction site, and his car slammed into a half-ton truck. Nothing happened to the driver of the truck; Fox came out of the accident with only a sore right knee.

Osteosarcoma

In 1977, after feeling pain in his right knee, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. This is a form of cancer that strikes men more than women, usually around ages ten to twenty-five. Very often the cancer starts at the knee, then works its way up into the muscles and tendons. At the time, the only way to treat his condition was to amputate his right leg several inches above the knee.

Fox believed that the injury from the 1976 crash had weakened his knee and made it more susceptible to cancer, although his doctors disagreed. The causes of osteosarcoma are not known.

Three years after losing his leg at age 18, the young athlete decided to run from coast to coast in order to raise money for cancer research. In creating the Marathon of Hope, his goal was to raise $1 from each Canadian citizen.

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Marathon of Hope

Fox began by dipping his leg in the Atlantic Ocean at St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980. He intended to dip it in the Pacific Ocean when he arrived in Victoria, British Columbia. He also filled two large bottles with Atlantic Ocean water; his plan was to keep one as a souvenir and pour the other one into the Pacific. He also intended to fill another jug of water with water from the Pacific Ocean. He was going to run about 42 km (26.2 miles) a day, the distance of a typical marathon. No one had ever done anything similar to the task Fox was undertaking.[citation needed]

Fox was unable to finish his run. His bone cancer had metastasized to his lungs: x-rays revealed that Terry’s right lung had a lump the size of a golf ball and his left lung had another lump the size of a lemon. He was forced to stop the run on September 1, 1980 just north-east of Thunder Bay, Ontario, after 143 days. He had run 5,373 km (3,339 miles, or around 23.3 miles per day) through Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario.

Soon after Fox was forced to stop, the CTV television network organized a telethon in hopes of raising additional funds for the cause. Any celebrities within range of Toronto were invited to participate, and the event raised millions of dollars. Many of the guests paid tribute to Fox; TV actor Lee Majors called him “the real Six Million Dollar Man.”

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Death

In June 1981, Terry developed pneumonia, and on June 27 he went into a coma. He died on the 28th at 4:37 a.m., which was his favourite hour of running, a year after his legendary run, and exactly one month shy of his twenty-third birthday.

Terry’s large funeral was broadcast live on national television. He is buried in the Port Coquitlam cemetery, near his favourite lookout just outside the cemetery gates.

Run

The Terry Fox Run is run around the world every year to raise money for cancer research. It is non-competitive- no winners or awards, just people joining to raise money for cancer research. Schools all around also participate in the annual Terry Fox Run.

Steve Fonyo, a cancer survivor inspired by Fox, completed the full length of Fox’s course in 1984 and 1985. Fonyo’s left leg had been amputated.

In a public opinion poll, Terry Fox was voted the most famous Canadian of the 20th century. He was voted number two on The Greatest Canadian list.

Biographies

His story is dramatized in the 1983 HBO TV movie The Terry Fox Story, which the Fox family has criticized for negatively depicting Terry Fox as having a fiery temper. In that film, he was portrayed by Eric Fryer, who won the Best Actor award at the 5th Genie Awards in 1984 for his portrayal.

In 2005, a new movie, titled Terry, was produced by the CTV television network. In that film, Fox was portrayed by Shawn Ashmore. Unlike Fryer, however, Ashmore is not himself an amputee; digital editing was used to superimpose a prosthesis over Ashmore’s real leg.

Author Douglas Coupland also chronicled Fox in his 2005 book Terry – The Life of Canadian Terry Fox.

Popular culture

* While Terry Fox was on his Marathon of Hope, a pop song was composed. “Run Terry Run” was performed by the Nancy Ryan’s Singers.
* British singer/songwriter Rod Stewart’s 1981 album Tonight I’m Yours includes the song “Never Give Up On A Dream” (co-written with Bernie Taupin), a tribute to Terry’s Marathon of Hope. Proceeds from the song went towards cancer research.
* Eric Walters` fictional book Run is about a troubled teenager who is inspired by a meeting with Terry Fox.
* The late Bishop Daniel Hart, Bishop Emeritus of Norwich, Connecticut, used the story of Terry Fox in his sermons for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
* The story of Terry Fox was told in the U.S. as part of a Long Distance Dedication on the 11 April 1981 episode of the American Top 40 radio show.

Awards and Honours

* Companion of the Order of Canada
* Second place in the CBC’s The Greatest Canadian popular vote
* Order of the Dogwood, British Columbia`s highest civilian award
* Lou Marsh Trophy of 1980
* Named athlete of the year in his final year of high school
* Named Canadian Newsmaker of the Year, 1980
* Named Canadian of the Year
* Named Canadian of the Decade for ’80’s

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Fox

For more information, do visit TerryFoxRun.org

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