Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Historical Event of the Week: End of the Marathon of Hope

Many of you non-Canadians out there probably haven't heard of a fellow named Terry Fox. Terry was a young Canadian doing what lots of young Canadians loved to do in the late 70s. He played basketball and was noted for his determination, and went off to university at Simon Fraser. The difference was that Terry had cancer, and he died very young of the disease in 1981.

Instead of being a pussy, Terry refused to give up. They took his leg, but that just gave him a greater balls-to-dude ratio. Terry decided to run across the fucking country, from Newfoundland to BC. He dipped his leg in the Atlantic Ocean and ran across the island of Newfoundland. Nobody gave a fuck.

He ran across Nova Scotia. People started to care, they lined the highways in some places. Quebec was pretty rough on Terry, but then he hit Ontario, and realized he was a celebrity, and beloved. Millions came in to help fight cancer. And Terry was given interviews and Darryl Sittler gave him his All-Star Jersey, and everything.

But this is about the end of the Marathon of Hope, because Terry Fox's cancer metastasized to his lungs. He couldn't run anymore, because he had trouble breathing. He stopped outside of Thunder Bay, and the place where he stopped has become a point of national pilgrimage.

Terry couldn't run anymore, but his Marathon never really stopped. The Marathon of Hope continued as fundraisers went across Canada, and massive telethons raised over $24 million in Terry's name. Every year, kids across Canada (and the world) take place in the Terry Fox Run, wherein they raise money for cancer research with pledges to engage in mini-marathons. Crossing Canada has become a thing to do for anyone with a cause, like Rick Hansen did in a wheelchair.

Terry Fox died on June 28, 1981, but he remains a hero to many Canadians and cancer patients. I always think of him as the guy who spat in Death's face and said, "Fuck you. I'm gonna run across Canada, leg or no leg. Take my life if you want - because it's worth it."

But maybe we should look at Terry's own words about doing this:

...everybody seems to have given up hope of trying. I haven't. It isn't easy and it isn't supposed to be, but I'm accomplishing something. How many people give up a lot to do something good. I'm sure we would have found a cure for cancer 20 years ago if we had really tried.

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