Fred Fox presents a certificate of appreciation honouring Rockwood Terrace's participation in the annual Terry Fox Run to the original organizer of the event, Marlene Hopkins.
BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF –
On September 5, Terry Fox's brother Fred dropped by Rockwood Terrace to speak to residents and present them with a plaque honouring 30 years of fundraising for their annual Terry Fox Run event.
The crowd was transported back to 1977 and the very beginning of Terry's journey as Fred Fox reminisced about the initial cancer diagnosis and his brother's determination to not only overcome his disease, but to raise money for cancer research. Fred explained that, while a cross-Canada run was Terry's idea, "Terry would never have imagined the impact he would have," he said.
Fourteen months younger, Fred was 19 when Terry died. Thirty-seven years later, he is still deeply impacted by his brother's vision and commitment. The first stop on a four-hour tour including stops at Rockwood Terrace and several local schools, Fred's itinerary September 5 was busy and didn't show any signs of letting up over the course of the following week as he had planned appearances across Ontario including Waterloo, Port Carling, Toronto and Minden. Fred continues to inspire people, devoted to Terry's legacy and what he started so many years ago. It's a role that took on renewed meaning following his mother's passing two years ago. "I am so proud to be connected with Terry in this way," he said.
Fred Fox told the story of his brother's achievements. A much younger Terry Fox was not the biggest or strongest kid in school but from an early age he was determined to be an athlete and worked harder and longer than anyone else to achieve his goals. On the night before Terry's operation to remove his leg, Fred found himself alone with his brother. Trying to make sense of the diagnosis, Fred asked him, "Why do you have to have cancer?" "Why not me?" Terry replied. "This is just another challenge I have to overcome," he explained, testament to his optimistic outlook on life.
After 18 difficult months of chemotherapy, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, Terry began to run on an artificial limb that was only designed for walking, testing his first strides alone at night so that nobody could see him fall. "By his 21st birthday, Terry ran 15 to 20 kms every day," Fred recalled.
It was in Prince George, following a last place finish in his first official post-operation marathon, that Terry came up with the idea to run across Canada. His family and his doctor tried to talk him out of it. His mother suggested a shorter, more manageable route from the BC/Alberta border to the shores of the Pacific Ocean but Terry insisted on running cross country and began his Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980.
Local Terry Fox Run organizer Deb Edwards recalled meeting an elderly woman on a prior trip to Newfoundland who claimed to be the very first person to donate to Terry's cause when she saw a curious young man stepping out from the Atlantic Ocean shore in St John's, Newfoundland. When he told her what he was doing, she gave him $5 to start him on his journey.
Fred Fox read a passage from Terry's journal posted on April 26 after an unusually bad day on the road just two weeks into his run. "I want to set an example that will never be forgotten," he wrote, indicating his unfettered strong will and determination. He continued to get up every day at 4 a.m. to begin running at 5 a.m. When he finally set foot in Ontario, he was buoyed by a wave of local and national attention that had, for the most part, eluded him previously.
Later that summer, on August 15, Fred met up with his brother in Wawa, Ontario and noticed his brother was weakening and had a bad cough. On September 1, he was forced to stop near Thunder Bay and returned to BC where he learned that the cancer had spread to his lungs. "If there's any way I can get back out there to finish my run, I will," Fred recalled his brother promising. But once it was apparent that his situation was terminal, Terry implored, "It's got to keep going without me."
Photo: Terry Fox Foundation.
Through Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope and the annual Terry Fox Run now held in 33 countries around the world, $750 million has been raised for cancer research. "Cancer research is working," said Fred Fox, who explained that when Terry was first diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, his prognosis gave him a 15% chance of survival. Today, that same type of bone cancer diagnosis boasts an 80 to 85% chance of survival, due in large part to the money invested in cancer research.
The Durham Terry Fox Run will take place on Sunday, September 16 starting at the main gate of the Durham Conservation Area with registration taking place at 1 p.m. Participants can run, walk, bike, roller blade, push a stroller, wheel chair or walk the dog. It is a family-friendly event accessible to everyone. No entry fee and no minimum fundraising amount is required to participate. For more information contact 519-369-5489 or email Rob Edwards.
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