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Terry Fox

by Brooke from San Diego

Terry Fox (Terry Fox Foundation)
Terry Fox (Terry Fox Foundation)

"Life doesn't mean money. It doesn't mean success. It just means doing things as well as you can without worrying about anything else" (Gale Database). This quote describes the selfless acts and determination Terry Fox expressed to the world. Imagine how many months of blood, sweat and tears it takes to train for just one 26.3-mile marathon. Now, picture yourself running a marathon every day, with a prosthetic leg, for 143 days in a row. Terrance Stanley Fox, better known as Terry Fox, was a member of the junior varsity basketball and varsity cross-country team at Canada's Simon Fraser University. In 1977, Terry, only 18 years old, was diagnosed with bone cancer, resulting in the amputation of his right leg. Terry understood how dangerous cancer is and how life changing it can be. He wanted to help others who were affected by cancer and came up with an idea that seemed nearly impossible. He decided he would run across the entire country of Canada to raise money and awareness towards cancer research. Courage, perseverance, and having the ability to make a difference in the world are all traits a hero should have. Terry, who possesses all of the characteristics, never gave up on hope and made the world a better place. Terrance Stanley Fox, a cancer-stricken amputee, is a courageous individual, proving himself a true hero with his perseverance and ability to make a difference in the world.

Most Americans are not aware of Terry's breathtaking, cancer-conquering story, although the courage he demonstrated throughout his journey makes him a true Canadian hero. At age 18, Terrance was diagnosed with bone cancer, abruptly told that his leg had to be amputated immediately. Terry expressed that he, "understood, he cried and then he prepared himself emotionally and mentally so that life after the operation would resemble, as much as humanly possible, life as it had been before" (Gale Database). Terry was a strong young man, facing life itself when reality hit. He knew he would never return to the life he once lived before, and this scared him, but he was willing to do anything to make his life worth living. Once his dramatic surgery was behind him, Terry spent the next 3 years training for his courageous run across the widespread country of Canada. Andrew Petter stated that, "Terry began his Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980 in St. John's, Newfoundland" (Petter). This is where Terry's journey all began. His courageous decision to run across Canada, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, was a life-threatening opportunity that he couldn't pass up. Terry was brave, wanting to run the 5300 miles that made up the vast country, striving to complete it in only a few months time. Terry's courageous fight against cancer is just one reason why he is known as a hero in many people's eyes.

Terry Fox Marathon (Denis Cummings)
Terry Fox Marathon (Denis Cummings)

Terry was the type of person who yearned to achieve his goals and challenges in life. His main focus was never giving up, and persisting with what he believed in. Terrance's incentive to raise money and awareness towards cancer research motivated him to endure the agonizingly painful cross-country runs he managed each and every day. In the long run, "He had completed a total of 5,373 km over 143 days, the equivalent of a marathon every day" (Petter). Being an amputee challenged him, but didn't make things impossible. Terry had a disadvantage, but having a disadvantage doesn't mean a person is "disabled". If anything, Terry was the opposite of disabled; he was able to do anything he set his heart on. Most people wouldn't be able to accomplish half the things Terry had done for this world. On Terry's first day of training for his "Marathon of Hope", he struggled tremendously, barely managing to run half a mile. The Gale Database states, "But he persisted. The next day he ran a mile, and by the end of the summer he was running 11 miles a day, six days a week" (Gale Database). Terry strove with perseverance. His dedication to running everyday was finally paying off. As Terry ran mile, after mile, bystanders watched in amazement, encouraging him to keep running. They applauded his determination and willpower to keep running despite the overwhelming amount of pain he endured. In Dennis Cummings' article "Terry Fox's 'Marathon of Hope' Comes to an End" he stated that, "Some Canadians said they felt a little squeamish at the newspaper and television pictures of his occasionally bloody stump and his face contorted in pain" (Cummings). Terrance was determined to run across Canada, overcoming anything that got in his way. He constantly fought the physical and psychological pain of being a cancer-amputee. Some people saw him as a crazy person on a death wish, but others recognized him as Canada's greatest hero. Terry's devotion and passion towards raising money and awareness for cancer made him a heroic idol to many people around the world.

Terry Fox statue (Andrew Petter)
Terry Fox statue (Andrew Petter)

At the early age, of just 21 years old, Terry possessed the proficiency to make a difference in the world like no other grown man could. Unfortunately, the cancer gradually spread to Terry's lungs, cutting his journey short. Shortly after that, he died at the young age of 22. From Andrew Petter's article "About Terry Fox", embedded a breathtaking statistic that touches the hearts of people all around the world, "Since Terry's death in 1981, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over 600 million dollars worldwide for cancer research" (Petter). Terry's unforgettable run will live on forever. People all over the world continue to support the Terry Fox Foundation today, donating millions of dollars every year. The money has been used to develop newer treatments that are able to relieve pain and prolong a cancer victim's overall lifespan. According to the Gale Database, "A commemorative stamp was issued with his likeness on it and an annual run was established in his honor. As of 2011, the run has helped raise more than $500 million for cancer research in Fox's name"(Gale Database). Terry is Canada's number one hero, honoring his willpower and selflessness with the Terry Fox Foundation. This foundation has been very successful and has helped thousands of people. Through Terry's heroic actions, he ended up changing this world for the better.

As a cancer amputee, Terry Fox demonstrated heroism through his determination and strength in running that truly inspired the world. After enduring the devastating surgery and countless hours of physical therapy, Terrance had a new perspective on life. He pledged to running across the vast country of Canada, raising money and awareness towards cancer research. Terry Fox did more than just run; he sent a global message that inspires me and people throughout the world. He teaches us that you can accomplish anything as long as you believe in yourself. His fight for cancer research will never be forgotten. Terry Fox is truly an inspiration and hero to us all.



Works Consulted


Cummings, Dennis. "On This Day: Terry Fox's "Marathon of Hope" Comes to an End." On This Day: Terry Fox's "Marathon of Hope" Comes to an End. Dulcinea Media, 1 Sept. 2011. Web. 09 May 2013. 


Lakhi, Suman. "Canada's Greatest Hero." Canada's Greatest Hero. Canadian Heroes, 2010. Web. 10 May 2013. 


Petter, Andrew. "About Terry Fox." - Terry Fox Day. Simon Fraser University, 2013. Web. 02 May 2013. 


Scrivener, Leslie. Terry Fox: His Story. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1981. Print.


"Terry Fox." Contemporary Heroes and Heroines. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1990. Biography In Context. Web. 2 May 2013.

Page created on 6/26/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 6/26/2013 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Simon Fraser University - About Terry Fox
Terry Fox's "Marathon of Hope" Comes to an End - Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope
The Terry Fox Foundation - Terry's annual marathon of hope run