Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marathon of Hope

Marathon of Hope

Terry FoxThe Marathon of Hope is a name given to the cross-Canada run undertaken by cancer patient Terry Fox in 1980. It is commemorated each year with the Terry Fox Run which is an international event that raises money for cancer research.

The initial goal of the run was to raise $1 million to be used for cancer research. After running through Port-Aux-Basques, Newfoundland, Terry changed his goal from raising $1 million to raising $1 for each person in Canada at the time ($24 million).

Beginning in Newfoundland Terry Fox was to run across the country ending on Vancouver Island - a distance of 5,000 km (3,107 miles) at a pace of 42 km (26.1 miles) a day. Unfortunately, Terry Fox's cancer returned while he was in Northern Ontario, and he had to stop the run on September 1, 1980, just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The goal of the run was to raise money and awareness for cancer research. In order to get the Canadian Cancer Society to support him he had to get corporate sponsorship for the run. Terry Fox sought no personal or financial gain for his efforts. His run was also a 'true' run across Canada; not taking the fastest route, he made sure that he would pass by the most populous regions of the country.

The run

The run begins

Terry Fox began the marathon on a foggy April 12, 1980 from St. John's, Newfoundland. He started by dipping his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean. The beginning of the run was marked with little fanfare; only one camera crew from the CBC Television was there to witness his start. He was joined that first day by the mayor of St. John's, who ran for a portion of the marathon.

While running through Gambo, Newfoundland on April 21, Terry was quoted as saying:

"It was an exciting day in Gambo. People came and lined up and gave me ten, twenty bucks just like that. And that's when I knew that the Run had unlimited potential."

Two weeks later while in Port-Aux-Basques, Newfoundland, Terry's idea of raising $1 for each person in Canada was born. In less than 2 hours, the community of 10,000 people, raised $10,000, equal to one dollar per person. Several weeks after Terry left Newfoundland, he found out that this total increased by another $4,000.

The run enters Central Canada

On June 10th Terry entered the Province of Quebec. Still largely unknown, he found it difficult as rude drivers honked their horns or nearly ran him off the road. Some thought he was a hitchhiker and offered to give him a ride. Since he spoke no French, he found it difficult to communicate with Quebecers. As he made his way to Montréal, he garnered more attention from the media and the general public. In early July, Fox arrived in the national capital of Ottawa, where he met with Governor-General Ed Schreyer. On July 4, he met with Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, but the meeting was awkward because Trudeau had returned from a trip to Europe and was not briefed on Fox's situation.

Into Toronto

By the time Terry finally reached Toronto, he had become a media sensation. The streets of the city were lined with thousands of supporters, and a public rally at Toronto City Hall had a crowd of over 10,000. His achievements also began to gain international attention. He was interviewed (while running) by the then popular American current events show That's Incredible!.

The run ends

Statue of Terry Fox overlooking the Trans-Canada HighwayOn September 1, 1980, his run stopped just northeast of Thunder Bay. Poor breathing prevented him from running further; Terry visited a local hospital, where he discovered that his cancer had spread to his lungs. Due to his poor health, from both the return of the cancer and the grueling pace of his running, he had to stop his journey across Canada. By this point he had run for 143 consecutive days totalling 5,373 km.

He returned to British Columbia for further medical treatment. While in hospital, Terry received a telegram from Four Seasons hotel executive Isadore Sharp (who had recently lost his own son to cancer) telling him that his Marathon of Hope would be continued in his honour with an annual run, and that they would not stop until Terry's dream of beating cancer was realized.

Today, a life sized bronze statue of Terry Fox in motion is located in a memorial park along the Trans-Canada Highway, overlooking the spot where he had to end his run.

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