The image of a fit young man with a head of curly hair and a prosthetic leg running across Canada, exposed to all the elements of rain, wind and snow is a lasting memory for many Canadians.
It was over 35 years ago that 21-year-old Terry Fox began the Marathon of Hope in St John’s, Nfld., in which he ran the equivalent of a marathon every day to raise funds for cancer research.
An avid athlete growing up in Port Coquitlam, Fox was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) when he was only 18 and his right leg was amputated. His experience watching younger children suffer in the cancer ward moved him to the point that he began the fundraiser in April 1980.
On Sept. 1 of that year, Fox had to interrupt his Marathon of Hope after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres to resume treatment in BC as cancer had appeared in his lungs.
The country mourned when he passed away on June 28, 1981, one month short of his 23rd birthday.
His parents continued his vision and today the annual non-sponsored run is about participation, fundraising and awareness rather than keeping track of times. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised close to $700 million for cancer.
Nelson will host its annual Terry Fox Run Sunday at Lakeside Park. Registration begins 8:30 a.m. at the Rotary shelter and the run starts at 9:30 a.m. with distances of 10, 5, 3, or 1 km, suitable for bikes, wheelchairs/strollers and rollerblades.
There are over 9,000 Terry Fox Runs each year, all volunteer-led and organized. Annually, millions of people in close to 25 countries participate in the National School Run Day (Sept. 30), the Terry Fox Run, and other Terry Fox fundraising events.