“I’m not a dreamer, and I’m not saying this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.” Terry Fox
In 1980, Terry raised $20.7M by for cancer research by running 3,339 miles in 143 days on an artificial leg. On average, he logged one marathon per day, running from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Thunder Bay, Ontario.
“When I started this run, I said that if we all gave one dollar, we’d have $22 million for cancer research, and I don’t care man, there’s no reason that isn’t possible. No reason!” Terry Fox
Terry was inspired to act when, in 1977, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the most common type of malignant bone cancer and one that tends to strike the young. At the time, the only treatment was amputation. On March 9, 1977, Terry’s leg was amputated 15 centimeters above the knee. Terry was 18 years old.
“The night before my amputation, my former basketball coach brought me a magazine with an article on an amputee who ran in the New York Marathon. It was then I decided to meet this new challenge head on and not only overcome my disability, but conquer it in such a way that I could never look back and say it disabled me.” Terry Fox
Terry was unable to actually complete his initial distance goal. The cancer had metastasized to his lungs and he was forced to stop running on Sept 1.
“People were still lining the road saying, ‘Keep going, don’t give up, you can do it, you can make it, we’re all behind you.’ There was a camera crew waiting to film me. I don’t think they even realized that they had filmed my last mile… people were still saying, ‘You can make it all the way Terry’.” Terry Fox
But others carried on for him. CTV organized a telethon for his cause, raising $10.5M in a single day.
Terry Fox died June 28, 1981, at the tender age of 22.
Terry’s legacy lives on. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $400M for Cancer Research and amputation is now rare for osteosarcoma.
Other people have done amazing things with their running.
The most money ever raised by a marathon runner was $3,669,325. This distinguished accomplishment goes to Steve Shalke who finished the 2007 Flora London Marathon in support of the Oasis UK charity. In fact, the London Marathon is the largest single-day fundraising event in the world. Since 1981, London marathon runners have raised over $800M for hundreds of charities. I have the honor of contributing to that total. As a 2006 London Marathoner, I raised in excess of $6000 for African Revival.
Seems these days using sporting triumphs for good causes is par for the course. And it should be! Athletes accomplish amazing feats every day. I can’t think of a better way to use that “star power” than to help. Kudos to my friend who has raised just shy of $7000 for the National MS Society. Kudos to my other friends who just started her drive for the Susan G. Komen society. We might not all raise $20M, but I am convinced every little bit helps. It’s the power of people and the power of sport.