Saturday, September 17, 2005

Crazy man becomes world hero

Canada is an extremely large country. Most Canadians don't see more than small bits of it in their entire lifetimes. Many find the thought of driving across the country a quest only for those who have nothing else to do with their lives.

A few Canadians have actually walked the many thousands of kilometres from the eastern shore of Newfoundland and Labrador province, on the Atlantic, to the western shore of British Columbia province (either the mainland or Vancouver Island). These people are considered to be insane by most Canadians.

Running across is out of the question. Running across if you only have one leg reaches beyond what the imagination can cope with.

Terry Fox, born in Winnipeg and raised in B.C. province, tried to do just that, though he had lost one leg to cancer.

His beginning, where he dipped his prosthetic leg into the Atlantic Ocean, was barely noticed by Canadian media. He planned to dip it again into the Pacific a few months later. He would "run" the equivalent of two marathons each day--kind of a hop and skip with each successive step.

Along the way he would ask people to sponsor him so that he could raise money to find a cure for cancer. Terry called it his Marathon of Hope.

By the time Terry passed through Quebec province, most Canadians knew who he was and what he was doing. When he neared the far side of Ontario province, every Canadian knew who Terry Fox was.

At Thunder Bay (city), about a day's run from the border of Manitoba province, Terry had to stop. His cancer had returned and his doctors advised that he go no further. His pain was constant and intense. That was September 1, 1980.

Terry Fox died in June of 1981. Yet his name is known around the world today. People in over 50 countries conduct their own Marathons of Hope each year. In Canada alone, some three million children in every province and territory will be involved in "The Terry Fox Run" this year, be they running, walking or pushing themselves in wheelchairs.

The name Terry Fox is a symbol of hope for the world. Terry's posthumous projects have raised over $360 million for cancer research.

When Terry Fox ran half way across Canada, cancer research was in the doldrums, having made little progress over the previous generation. Today many kinds of cancer are with reach of being stopped and untold thousands of Canadians are alive because of the attention that Terry brought to the disease and the resulting early diagnosis of so many people.

Terry Fox is a Canadian hero. Yet he is also a hero to the world, no matter what the skin colour, religion, home country, language or culture of the people who honour him.

Terry Fox is one reason I and many of my fellow countrymen confidently call ourselves proud Canadians.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to give every person reason for hope for a better future.
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