Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Terry Fox 2011


That word means so much to us as humans. Our lives are touched by them, and the actions they perform that separate them from the rest of us. We always say that the world needs more heros, or people like that. Brave, courageous, self-sacrificing, honourable and dedicated are words that come to my mind in thinking about true characteristics of a Hero.

And all these words are represented in a young man who died before his time, at the tender age of 22, Terry Fox.

Terry Fox is a Canadian legend, and has been named Canada's #2 important citizen for his Marathon of Hope run across our country in 1980 to raise money for Cancer research.

His goal was to raise $1 per Canadian by running across Canada with one leg. A big goal at the time, and to date, he has raised over a half a BILLION dollars in his name in the fight against the disease that took his life.

At the age of 18, his right leg was amputated when it was discovered he had cancer in it.

I can only imagine how horrific it would be for a young athlete to have their leg amputated above the knee at age 18, and how he thought he was getting a raw deal in life. And certainly, a man of lesser character would've let that bother him, but I think Terry Fox was put here on this earth to inspire us. Inspire us on a human level like no other like him, and give hope to millions long after he has been dead. And he has certainly achieved that.

In death, he has been frozen as that iconic figure. -Wincing face blinded with pain, slowly trudging along regardless of circumstances around him. Surrounded by a belief system so profound and strong that it was never an option to quit his Marathon of Hope.

I had read somewhere that after running through the eastern provinces; he raised something like $55 running through the entire province of Quebec.

I can imagine that was completely and morally crushing to him. But it never came close to stopping him.

Here he was, waking up every morning at 4am and running a half marathon on one leg. Eating, having a nap, and then running a second half of the marathon in the afternoon every single day without a break. And you raise an insulting amount of money for the effort like this with no support or recognition. But still he continued his run…

However, by then the exposure starting following him and by the time he reached Toronto, all that effort was starting to pay off in a way he never thought possible. Everyone started to follow his run. He was on TV and in all the papers. He had a police escort coming into towns and cities. It became a fantastic and touching story. It reached every single Canadian, and inspired us all. I can remember being an 8 year old boy going into the bank with my dad every week and my dad would ask me, "How much do we give Terry this week Chuckie?"

But by the time he was just outside of Thunder Bay, Ont. Terry's body was tired. Not from the Marathon of Hope that he did everyday, but from the cancer that had spread into his lungs. Lumps in each lung had spread throughout his body and one month shy of his 23nd birthday, Terry slipped into a coma and passed away.

And with that, as a young man died, his legend started and lives to this day.

When he passed away, then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said, "It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death ... We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity".

And this brings me to think that Terry Fox had done more with the 22 years of his life, than almost everyone I know who lives a full life. I can imagine that almost 30 years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer as an 18 year old, his life seemed over. Who would've thought that he would become a household name in his own country and eventually named Canada's #2 most important citizen?

Well, Terry would've been 53 years old today. And so I'm throwing a shout out and a big Happy Birthday wish to his memory. He is finally re-united with his mother Betty Fox, who passed away this year. I'm thankful for his contribution and the sacrifice he gave with his life to something so terrible as cancer which is an enemy to someone we all know. But because of his vision and his sacrifice, many others who may have died of cancer, were saved and allowed to live life a little while longer.

And that is the stuff that Heros are made of...

I want to throw in a quote from him that I thought was so very poignant. He said in his fundraising letter to sponsors, “I believe in miracles; I have to”

-So here's to you Terry Fox. Your life will be forever remembered by all you have saved, and we remember you today on the day you were born to us…

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