It’s been 40 years to the day that Terry Fox ended his Marathon of Hope in Thunder Bay. For his brother, Fred, it’s a day of reflection.
“Terry had started back on April 12, 1980, and made his way through the Maritime provinces, Quebec and stopped in Thunder Bay,” Fred told Black Press Media by phone Tuesday (Sept. 1).
Terry had ran 3,339 miles (5374 kilometres) in his journey, including 21 miles on that day, before acknowledging that he could no longer run; despite a leg amputation three years earlier, the cancer had returned and spread to his lungs. He died on June 28, 1981, at just 22 years old.
Fred said that every year on Sept. 1, the family is reminded of “the beginning of a wonderful, amazing legacy” that Terry left – one they weren’t always sure would last.
“In the early years, in early ’80s , our parents were told this is only going to last a few years,” he said. To date, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised more $800 million for cancer research, and the annual run is held in countries all over the world.
But this year, the run will look a little bit different. It will be held virtually on Sunday, Sept. 20, and has the option to track your run (or walk) through the MoveSpring app. Users can use the code TFF to register and join the Terry Fox Run challenge.
#OnThisDay – Sept. 1, 1980 – near Thunder Bay
With every mile Terry endures terrible pain. He finally goes to a hospital; cancer has returned. It is the last day of the Marathon of Hope.
Journal entry: "21 miles. 3,339 miles."
Honour Terry's Try today. https://t.co/MAKFD0E1c6 pic.twitter.com/pIqXixZh03
— TerryFoxFoundation (@TerryFoxCanada) September 1, 2020
Fred said that while his family aims to celebrate Terry every year, they were heartened to hear the many questions about what would be happening with the run in 2020, even amid the pandemic.
“Even the last five months, with all of us dealing with COVID, people have said ‘what are we doing this September?’” Fred said.
“It’s so important to continue Terry’s dream and raise money for cancer research. As Terry said: even if I don’t finish, you’ve got to keep going without me.”
For cancer survivors and patients going through treatment, the run can be especially heartening this year. Both groups are at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19 but Fred said he’s heard that many of them will do the run in their own way.
“Many of them need to be careful in this COVID world… but they’re with their families and friends, in their bubble, getting out there.”
For his part, Fred said he and his family will take part in their own small run within their COVID-19 bubble. For Fred and his wife, who live in Maple Ridge, that means they will do the run with their three kids – and two special guests.
“I have two grand children and our youngest will be experiencing the Terry Fox Run for the first time.”
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