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The Audacity of the Marathon of Hope

April 12th, 2010

I remember seeing a news report back on April 12, 1980: some young fellow from British Columbia, who had an amputated leg due to cancer, was beginning a run across Canada. His goal was to raise money for cancer research, and awareness about cancer. He had the modest goal of raising one dollar for every Canadian. Twenty-four-million dollars. It wasn’t a news story, it was a human interest story about a young man nobody outside of  Port Coquitlam BC had ever heard of. Terry Fox dipped the toe of his shoe, attached to a metal leg, into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland.

Three months later Terry Fox hobbled up Queen Street (Hwy. 7) in Brampton in his own unique way. Thousands of people lined the route, including a sixteen year old produce clerk at the nearby Food City. I should have been working, of course, but nobody was. If you wanted customer service that day, you were going to have to wait while the young sensation ran past. He was no longer unknown, and he was well on his way to far exceeding his goal. Awareness and money were very much raised.

Six weeks later it was all over. Terry Fox ended his Marathon of Hope that began thirty-years ago today in Newfoundland. This time it wasn’t a human interest story, but the lead news item: Cancer had returned to Terry Fox, the Marathon ended by the side of the road in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

In the classic hero narrative, there is always a journey the hero must take, a quest. Part of his journey is a descent into hell, and then a return, a rising to greatness. Losing his leg to cancer as a teen, it’s not hard to imagine Terry Fox’s descent, and thirty-years ago today, 21-year old Terry Fox took his first, tentative, soggy steps on his rise to greatness: a true Canadian hero; a remarkable young man; and a breathtaking journey.


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  1. real conservative
    April 13th, 2010 at 00:40 | #1

    The greatest Canadian if you ask me. The school kids know it too. You can’t bullshit a kid, but the CBC tries to bullshit all of Canada though.

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