Terry Fox was famously brought up short on his run from the Atlantic to the Pacific across Canada. It wasnâ€™t the vast size of the country that defeated him, but the return of the cancer that had already cost him one leg.
Fox was 22 when he died of cancer, his run half-finished. He did live to see his fundraising dream realized â€“ by 1981, his Marathon of Hope had raised more than $23 million, or about $1 for every person living in Canada at that time.
Like the Marathon of Hope, which was run largely on a shoestring and the determination of Terry Fox, his family, and his friends, the local Terry Fox Runs held around Canada this weekend are relatively humble affairs.
Volunteers will set up a course and the registration tables. We locals will turn up, our states of fitness ranging from â€œhighly athleticâ€ to â€œcouch jockey.â€ Weâ€™ll strap on some running shoes or roller blades and go one, five or 10 kilometres. And everyone drops off a donation on their way through registration, and is grateful if the weather turned out nice.
Today, the humble Terry Fox Runs held every year in Foxâ€™s memory have raised more than $650 million for cancer research.
Canadians were the first to take on Terryâ€™s legacy, but we have exported it around the world, and thousands of people outside our borders also run annually in his memory. Collectively, we have racked up millions of kilometres, enough to circle the earth endlessly. The annual runners have completed Terryâ€™s Marathon of Hope over and over again, and will do it again next year, and the year after that, and so on.
Eventually, there wonâ€™t be an annual Terry Fox Run. The volunteers will turn their hands and heads to other pursuits, and the running enthusiasts will have to find other charities for which to jog. Some of us will probably just sleep in on that Sunday.
That will be an excellent day. It will be the day that Terryâ€™s dream is realized, and cancer is eradicated.