Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, a community near Vancouver on Canada's west coast. An active teenager involved in many sports, Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977. While in hospital, Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.
He would call his journey the Marathon of Hope.
After 18 months and running over 5,000 kilometres (3,107 miles) to prepare, Terry started his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980 with little fanfare. Although it was difficult to garner attention in the beginning, enthusiasm soon grew, and the money collected along his route began to mount. He ran 42 kilometres (26 miles) a day through Canada's Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario.
It was a journey that Canadians never forgot.
However, on September 1st, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles), Terry was forced to stop running outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs. An entire nation was stunned and saddened. Terry passed away on June 28, 1981 at age 22.
The heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy was just beginning.
To date, more than $400 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry's name through the annual Terry Fox Run, held across Canada and around the world.
Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg , Manitoba , Canada to Rolly and Betty Fox. He was raised in Vancouver , British Columbia and then moved to the family home on Morrill Street in Port Coquitlam , British Columbia , with his brother Fred, his younger brother Darrell, and his sister Judith.
Four things were evident about him; first, he loved sports of all kinds - soccer , rugby union , baseball , and diving . Second, he was not tall, so he had to work harder than the bigger kids. Third, he was extremely competitive. Lastly, he had a huge amount of determination.
In junior high school, Fox loved basketball and wanted to play guard on the Mary Hill Cobras team. He was only 5 feet tall at the time and mediocre at the game. In order to achieve his goal, he spent every day practicing his basketball skills. By grade ten, he was one of the best guards. In senior high school he was a starting guard for the Port Coquitlam Ravens. Thus, he achieved his goal because of his determination. In grade eight, Bob Mcgill, his physical education teacher suggested Fox should try out for cross country running. At that time he completely had no interest in running but Terry started training anyway, because he had so much respect for his coach and wanted to please him. He found the running exhausting but at the end, his coach had called him a man. And he kept that to the end of his days.
On November 12 , 1976 , Fox was driving back home along Port Coquitlam's highway in his green 1968 Ford Cortina . He was distracted by a bridge construction site, and his car slammed into a half-ton truck. Nothing happened to the driver of the truck; Fox came out of the accident with only a sore right knee.
In 1977, after feeling pain in his right knee, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma . This is a form of cancer that strikes men more than women, usually around ages ten to twenty-five. Very often the cancer starts at the knee, then works its way up into the muscles and tendons. At the time, the only way to treat his condition was to amputate his right leg several inches above the knee.
In June 1981, Terry developed pneumonia , and on June 27 he went into a coma. He died on the 28th at 4:37 a.m., which was his favourite hour of running, a year after his legendary run, and exactly one month shy of his twenty-third birthday.
Terry's large funeral was broadcast live on national television . He is buried in the Port Coquitlam cemetery, near his favourite lookout just outside the cemetery gates.