Sunday, September 20 will see the Terry Fox Run go virtual for its first time in the 40 years the charity event has been staged. Thus far, raising over $800-million for cancer research, the annual event is one of the world’s largest benefactors of cancer research. As the foundation prepares for the inaugural virtual event, iRun editor Ben Kaplan caught up with Fred Fox—Terry’s brother—from his home in New Westminster, British Columbia.
iRun: What do you think Terry would have made of the world we live in now with COVID 19?
FF: Terry always liked a challenge and he challenged himself all the time. I know the world is certainly being challenged with all of this, but he wouldn’t let it stop it, like so many of us are doing day to day.
iRun: Is the Terry Fox Foundation ready to go virtual?
FF: Absolutely. For 40 years, we’ve been following Terry and having his words push the wind behind us. In April, we made the decision to go virtual and have participants do their own runs. We had big plans for the 40th anniversary, we’d been planning since this time last year, but then came COVID, and we had to alter things. But I think that’s something Terry knew how to do and something all of us have also had to live with and do—we’re ready, and excited.
iRun: Why has Terry’s message resonated after all these years?
Terry inspired so many people for so many different reasons. Terry said, ‘Anything is possible,’ and I think the idea—that if you just try you can achieve great things—means a lot to so many people.
iRun: What does it mean to you, personally?
FF: For me, and for the foundation, we’ve never been this busy. Every day is a new challenge or obstacle, but we’re trying and we take Terry’s example. It’s exactly the same as what all of our participants and volunteers are going through—we’re trying our best under difficult circumstances and we’re refusing to simply accept that it’s over or something can’t be done. That wasn’t what Terry was like.
iRun: What do you miss about your brother?
FF: I miss his kibbutzing around, playing practical jokes and laughing all the time. We were all very competitive and active in sports and doing different things, but I miss hitting a golf ball around a golf course with him, and following him around and his endeavours.
iRun: And those endeavours continued even after his cancer diagnosis.
FF: They sure did. Even after cancer, he still needed those competitive juices. He was a basketball player and I miss him playing ball with Rick Hansen and just watching him be active.
iRun: From such a sweet, humble kid, it’s amazing how much has grown. $800-million for cancer research. Can you even get your head around such a number?
FF: It’s a lot of money, but what’s most important is the impact it’s had on cancer research. That’s what Terry wanted and to take some words from our mom, she always used to say: “It’s not us,” and I like that. We’re blessed to be Terry’s family and share his story, but it’s not us. It’s the thousands of people across Canada and the world that have gotten Terry’s mandate of raising money. It’s the volunteers and grandparents and 9,000 schools in Canada. It’s the theme built around Terry’s integrity and the impact that we, together, have made. It’s the people who have survived their diagnosis because of the money that’s been raised.
iRun: Can you even imagine what Terry might have done with today’s technology on his Marathon of Hope?
FF: Even the clothing he wore! That cotton Marathon of Hope shirt worn in Southern Ontario in July, and those Adidas Orion shoes, not to mention the dry-fit technology and everything else that would have been so beneficial. I mean, that artificial leg that Terry was using wasn’t meant for running—it was meant for walking. Thinking about that, oh boy! If Terry had the technology you see these days at the Paralympics who knows how many more miles he could’ve run. But he did the best he could at the time with what he had and it was enough.
iRun: What do you want to say to the folks reading this, who love your brother and want to get involved with your run on September 20?
FF: It’s always going to be Thank You. Even before he went north, Terry said, ‘If I don’t finish, it needs to continue without me,’ and Canadians responded to that and participate in the Terry Fox Run each year.
To participate in the first-ever virtual Terry Fox Run, please click here.