Image via Terry Fox Foundation
[twitter]Terry Fox died when I was just 11 years old. It was a powerful event for me. When our family would cross Canada for a summer vacation just a few years later, I made sure we stopped at his memorial just outside Thunder Bay. On that same 1984 summer trip, we would run alongside Steve Fonyo for a few steps outside Ottawa. While Fonyo would complete the route Terry had intended, his legacy would end up being very different.
To this day, many will call Terry Fox “The Greatest Canadian.” It’s easy to see why. He was a humble kid who simply wouldn’t let cancer stand in his way. It’s fitting, then, that school children would be the ones to really continue the legacy of Terry Fox.
Zacharie is in Grade 1. Each day at his school, kids do laps of the playground. They get stickers for each lap completed. At the end of the month, the kids will have cumulatively gone right across Canada, completing the run in Terry’s memory.
For the 25th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, Adidas and The Terry Fox Foundation re-released the Orion shoe Terry ran his daily marathon in and renamed it the Terry Fox. I grabbed a pair and, every September, I wear them in honor of Terry and his daily marathon. I showed them to Zacharie and he was awed.
“Those are Terry Fox’s shoes?” he asked, bewildered.
“They are the type of shoe that Terry wore,” I said, leaning down to show him the map on the inside of the sole showing Terry’s route.
“Wow,” he sighed.
Terry Fox may have died more than 25 years before my son was even born, but he can tell you exactly what this man means and why his legacy is so important.
As I dropped Zacharie off at school this morning, we took a minute to sit in the sun and talk about who Terry Fox was and what he means to kids today:
The Terry Fox Run is this weekend. It is a very grassroots run. Simply show up at the run site on Sunday morning, pay your fee and run in Terry’s memory. That’s it.
A few years ago I was hosting a fundraiser at BC Children’s Hospital. I met a high school basketball player who was in the hospital for cancer treatment. “I have Terry Fox’s cancer,” she said not with fear but with pride.
30 years ago, that cancer would have been a death sentence at worst and cost her a leg at the least. No longer. Her cancer was beatable, thanks to the money and awareness and research that had been done in the wake of Terry’s Marathon of Hope. Terry’s cancer has been beaten.