Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters, Edited by Darrell Fox

Ten stars

While Canadians tend to be labelled as soft and warm-hearted, we do have our moments of divisiveness. However, merely uttering the name ‘Terry Fox’ is enough to end all battles as we think of a young man who truly earned the label ‘Canadian Hero’. After losing his leg to cancer, Terry watched the numerous faces of children who were on the cancer ward and pledged that he would raise money to help end this horrible disease. He strapped on his prosthetic leg and began to train so that he could run and raise money for those who needed it most. After feeling that he was ready for the task, he made his way to the far eastern part of Canada, dipped his shoe in the Atlantic Ocean, and began a Marathon of Hope in April 1980. Terry ran the equivalent of a marathon every day, with hopes of making it across the country, raising money along the way. While he made it only 143 days before the cancer returned and it was too much, he vowed that he would continue as soon as he was able. Alas, the marathon was never continued and Terry died in 1981, but his legacy lives on.

This is a collection of letters and memories by Canadians—famous and common folk—sharing their recollections of the Marathon of Hope or the impact that Terry had on them. Some were not even born during any of Terry’s life, while others had personal moments with him along his 143 days on the road. Each is a touching tribute, remembering Terry’s perseverance and how he sought only to help others, pushing himself past his pain. On the fortieth anniversary of the events, this is a way to remember the man, his determination, and how a country (and eventually world) rallied behind him and the cause he held dear. Some messages are quite inspirational, others highly informative. What they all have in common is to profess that Terry Fox was a man who was as selfless as he was heroic. If anyone deserves the label, let it be Terry!

I lost my father 20 years ago, so I am well aware of the pain that cancer can cause a family. I was also too young to actively remember the Marathon of Hope, but have seen many videos and also visited the spot in Thunder Bay where Terry had to hang up his shoes and return to Vancouver for treatment. He has touched Canadians with his efforts to raise money so that cancer might be eradicated, though he was humble about it. Putting himself out there and letting the country cheer him on was one thing, but this was a personal pledge to himself, hoping that no one else would have to feel helpless, should he be able to raise enough. Each message in here touched my heart as I read them. They were kind and full of hope, making me realise that Terry Fox lives in us all. With annual walks around Canada (and now, parts of the world) to raise money for cancer research, I can see just how far a single man’s movement can go to make a difference. While Terry may have passed on in 1981, the Terry Fox Run has raised upwards of $800 million to date, with no signs of stopping. You will be missed, Terry, but never forgotten. Canada has your back and loves you so very much!

Kudos, Terry Fox and all the contributors to this book, for reminding me that a small act of selflessness can change the world, one step at a time.

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