It’s been 38 years now–the spring and summer of 1980–that Terry Fox first won our attention with his unlikely and gutsy run that took him half-way across the country–a run he had to cut short because he could no longer physically produce the equivalent of a marathon every day to raise money for cancer research.
Fox was doing all this on one leg and heart of a lion–a combination he parlayed into 143 days and 5,373 kilometres before he was forced to stop near Thunder Bay, Ontario because of the ill-effects of the cancer from which he suffered.
It had spread to his lungs.
Less than a year later he was dead.
He was just out of his teens then.
Had he lived, he would have turned 60 this past July, a fact that many, many Canadians might find extremely hard to believe.
The young man we all remember left an extraordinary legacy.
How big a legacy?
How about Will Dwyer?
Dwyer is 93 now, but he too was deeply touched all those years ago by Fox’s heroic efforts.
So much so that Dwyer has personally raised over $800,000 in and around the Barrie, Ontario area.
That’s $800,000 single-handedly.
The older Dwyer gets, the tougher it is to make it up the stairs to homes housing potential donors, but he carries on.
I spoke to by phone at his home in Barrie on Thursday.
The first Terry Fox Run was held at more than 760 sites in Canada and around the world in 1981, the summer he died.
The event attracted 300,000 participants and raised $3.5 million.
That, of course, was just the start.
Runs in his honour are now held annually in countries around the world.
Over $715 million has been raised to support cancer research in Terry’s name.