Terry Fox, My Hero

Terry-Fox-runningIt was 35 years ago this week when Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope.

Truth be told, my hero is Terry, a Canadian legend. His is a story of creating the result that cannot be matched. In 1977, Terry contracted cancer in his right leg. It was amputated, but this courageous and tenacious basketball player didn’t let that stop him. In 1980, he set out to raise $24 million for cancer research — $1 for every Canadian citizen — by running across Canada under the banner called ‘Marathon of Hope’. That’s right, Terry intended to run marathon a day in hopes he could attain his goal. His quest commenced in the spring of 1980 in St. John’s, Newfoundland which would take him across Canada where he would dip his leg in the Pacific Ocean in Victoria, British Columbia at some point in the Fall of 1980.

Cancer is inhumane and it came back to stop Terry in his tracks in Thunder Bay, Ontario after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres of running. Do the math, it’s just shy of a marathon a day for 143 days on one human leg and one prosthetic leg. I was 10 years old. Stunned, shocked and disappointed was how I was feeling back then. Nine months later, Terry succumbed to cancer where I and my nation mourned uncontrollably from the loss. Unjust doesn’t begin to describe the irony. Some 30 years later, Terry’s goal of $24 million has easily been reached with the annual Terry Fox Run — the world’s largest one-day fund-raising event for cancer research — bringing in well over $500 million to date.

During the ‘Marathon of Hope’ itself, Terry was joined by his brother Darrell and good friend Doug Alward. It was here where Terry demonstrated the act of creating the result. Terry’s pugnacious drive and hardened vision would not allow failure to be an option. He was resilient and always on top of Doug and Darrell to achieve the daily goal in hopes of reaching the overall objective. He was relentless. He was focused. He praised his team when needed, and pushed if necessary. Terry was accountable to the team, himself and the mission. His stamina — physically and mentally — was unassailable. Were it not for the unkind fortune of a disease that doesn’t seem to quit, Terry would have accomplished his feat with dignity, engagement and a results positive outcome. He inspired a generation (and now a second generation) to be bold, driven and at all times to create the result. I know he has done that for me and lately with our children. Can Terry be your inspiration to create the result too?

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