Tuesday 11 September 2018

Book ~ "Terry Fox: His Story" (2000) Leslie Scrivener

From Goodreads ~ Terry Fox, the one-legged runner from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, made an indelible impression upon people across Canada and around the world. An outstanding athlete with a stubborn and competitive spirit, he lost his leg to cancer at 19, but said “nobody is ever going to call me a quitter.”

On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox set out from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to begin the run across Canada that he named the Marathon of Hope. His ambition was to raise a million dollars for cancer research. It wasn’t easy. Initial support from communities varied from terrific to nothing at all. His prosthetic leg was painful to run on, and there were always traffic and extreme weather conditions to deal with. But by the time he reached Ontario – a journey of more than 3,000 kilometres – word of his achievement had spread and thousands cheered him and followed his progress. Terry’s spirits soared and now he hoped to raise $22 million dollars – one dollar for every Canadian. He succeeded in this ambition but the Marathon of Hope ended near Thunder Bay, Ontario on September 1, 1980. The cancer had spread to his lungs and, after running 24 miles in one day, on the next he could run no further.

When cancer finally claimed his life in 1981, Canada mourned the loss of a hero but the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope lives on. The Terry Fox Foundation raised more than $17 million in 1999, and support for the event nationally and around the world is growing.

Terry Fox was an ordinary young man living in Port Coquitlam, BC.  He was athletic and enjoyed running and basketball.  When he was 19, they discovered he had a cancerous tumour and his right leg was amputated at the knee.  With an artificial leg, he began running again and played wheelchair basketball.

On April 12, 1980, Terry began the Marathon of Hope, a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research.  He hoped to raise one dollar from each of Canada's 24 million people.  He began in St. John's, NF, in April and ran the equivalent of a full marathon every day.  On September 1, 1980, he was forced to end his run outside Thunder Bay because the cancer had spread to his lungs.  He headed home to BC immediately to begin treatment and passed away in June 1981.

This book is Terry's story.  It starts with his childhood, finding out he had cancer and dealing with his artificial leg, details the Marathon of Hope (including quotes from Terry's diary), the second bout of cancer, his death and what has happened since then.

I was 17, in grade twelve and living in Sydney, Nova Scotia, when Terry started his Marathon of Hope.  Though he came through Sydney in the beginning of May after making his way through Newfoundland, I don't have any recollection of that, which I thought was strange considering what a big deal it was and still is.  Then I read in this book that when he got to Sydney ... "there were only two or three people from the Cancer Society waiting for us ... here we are in Sydney and there's nothing, absolutely nothing.  Nobody even knew.  It wasn't even in the media."  In hindsight, that's really sad.

One of Terry's earliest supporters was Isadore Sharp, founder of the Four Seasons Hotels, who proposed an annual fundraising run in Terry's name.  Terry agreed but insisted that the runs be non-competitive.  The first Terry Fox Run was on on September 13, 1981 ... over 300,000 people took part and raised $3.5 million.  The Run has grown to involve millions of participants in over 60 countries and is now the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research ... over $750 million has been raised (as of January 2018).

I got this book last week at a fundraising meet 'n greet for our neighbourhood Terry Fox Run with Fred Fox, Terry's brother, in attendance.  I'd walked 5km in this Run last year for the first time.  This year, in addition to again walking 5km, I'm also volunteering (our Run is this Sunday).

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