It’s been 41 years since a determined young man named Terry Fox dipped his primitive prosthetic leg into the Atlantic at St. John’s, Newfoundland. He wanted to run across Canada hoping to raise $24 million for cancer research – a dollar for each Canadian. His goal was to finish his Marathon of Hope in his home province on the Pacific shores of Vancouver.
Terry was 17 when cancer robbed him of his right leg. It spread to his lungs at 22 and took his life in 1981. His accomplishments during his short life, however, have inspired millions of participants from across the world to take up his cause to end cancer. It’s the largest one-day cancer fundraiser in the world – raising $850 million to date for cancer research.
It was a lonely start with no fanfare – long before the internet and social media. His heavy primitive prosthetic wasn’t designed for the grueling distances Terry logged – a marathon-a-day for 143 days until cancer took his life. His raw, blistered and bruised stump left him in agonizing pain – the first 20 minutes were the worst until he adjusted to the pain. Cancer took Terry’s life, but the dream of his hope to conquer cancer remains. If Terry were diagnosed today with his type of bone cancer, the diagnosis wouldn’t be near as grim. He may have avoided amputation and lived a long, healthy life.
Olds residents have supported the Terry Fox run since its inception. We’ve walked, ran, cycled, roller-bladed and cheered through snow, rain, frost and heat. Last year, we even adjusted to a pandemic by taking the appropriate precautions.
This year’s event is again led by Noel D’Arcy and his dedicated group of firefighter colleagues. They’ve tentatively planned an in-person event Sept. 19 that will start and end at the Olds fire hall with a barbecue and refreshments to follow. There will be two courses: a five and 10-kilometre (km) route. It’s always well marked with plenty of volunteers to keep you safe and motivated. Please, however, check the Olds Fire Department’s Facebook page for the latest updates – changing COVID protocol could change the format of the event.
The Terry Fox Run and its foundation mean a lot to me. I will be running the 10 km route – much like I have for nearly 30 years. Pledge forms are available online. We can print some off at The Albertan office if you prefer. Hope to see you Sunday.
Murray Elliott is the publisher of The Albertan.