Terry Fox: The Marathon of Hope

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. An incredible individual, one of Canada’s greatest, I challenge you all to get out on September 18th and participate in an event near you.

About Terry Fox

Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, a community near Vancouver on Canada’s west coast. An active teenager involved in many sports, Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977.

While in hospital, Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.

He would call his journey the Marathon of Hope.

After 18 months and running over 5,000 kilometres (3,107 miles) to prepare, Terry started his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980 with little fanfare. Although it was difficult to garner attention in the beginning, enthusiasm soon grew, and the money collected along his route began to mount. He ran 42 kilometres (26 miles) a day through Canada’s Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario.

It was a journey that Canadians never forgot.

However, on September 1st, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles), Terry was forced to stop running outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs. An entire nation was stunned and saddened. Terry passed away on June 28, 1981 at age 22.

The heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy was just beginning.

To date, more than $360 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry’s name through the annual Terry Fox Run, held across Canada and around the world.

Before Terry died, he knew that an annual event would be held to commemorate his Marathon of Hope. It would be called, appropriately, The Terry Fox Run.

The first Terry Fox Run in 1981 attracted 300,000 participants across Canada and raised $3.5 million. To date, more than $360 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry’s name.

Each year, thousands of volunteers organize Terry Fox Run events in Canada and around the world.

In Canada, the annual Terry Fox Run is held every September, usually on the second Sunday following Labour Day. In countries outside Canada, the Run is organized at a time that is convenient for organizers.

The Run is a non-competitive event where people get together as individuals, families and groups to raise money in Terry’s name. It is a day of celebrating Terry’s legacy and helping to keep his dream of a cure for cancer alive.

There is no entry fee and no prizes are awarded, although a certificate of appreciation is given when participants complete their journey. Run locations are organized in large urban areas attracting thousands of people and in small, rural communities where just about everybody knows each other. School events tend to be incorporated into the daily curriculum.

The emphasis of the event isn’t on how much you raise, but that you participate in Terry’s memory and help him finish his Marathon of Hope.

As Terry said in 1980:

“If you’ve given a dollar, you are part of the Marathon of Hope .”

Leave a Reply