Terry Fox (1958-1981), born on this day in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was a natural athlete when bone cancer required the amputation of his right leg six inches above the knee.
The 1977 experience inspired him to create Marathon of Hope, an event to raise awareness and money for cancer research. "Iím not doing the run to become rich or famous," he said.
In 1980, he began his cross-Canada run in St. John's Newfoundland, averaging 26 miles per day. He ran for 143 days. Half-way to British Columbia, with 3,300 miles logged, he was forced to stop because the cancer had spread to his lungs.
"I was doing what I wanted and a dream was coming true and that, above everything else, made it all worthwhile to me. Even though it was so difficult, there was not another thing in the world I would have rather been doing," Fox said of the experience.
Fox's 1980 marathon raised $24.17 million.
Today Canadians... and the world... continue what Fox started. Each year, non-competitive family fun runs are held to raise pledges at over 3,000 sites. In 2001, more than 50 countries and an estimated 242,000 participants did their part for cancer research. In the 23 years since his death, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $270 million worldwide. Over $18.7 million has been budgeted by The Terry Fox Foundation to cancer researchers during the 2004/2005 fiscal period.
"I just wish people would realize that anything's possible, if you try; dreams are made, if people try," Fox said, an inspirational believer who celebrated fierce determination and heroic courage.
"He was literally a mystic character," praised Isadore Sharp, the founder of the Terry Fox Run. "You stand or die for your principles, and he died, as a hero, for a cause greater than himself."
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Believe in miracles. You have to.