If ever you’re looking for an antidote to the day’s bad news, it’s hard to beat asking runners what they think about when they think about Terry Fox. In the most popular Facebook post at iRun in months, we asked our readers what Terry means to them, just over a week out from the annual Terry Fox run.
“A Canadian hero, hometown hero who exhibited strength, resilience, perseverance and an ability to unite a nation—the world—in the search for a cure for cancer,” one reader wrote.
“I think about this Sunday in Montreal when I run my forty-second straight year and raise money for Cancer Research which was what Terry was all about. I’m a stage 4 cancer-survivor, going on eleven years,” said another.
“Terry was persistence personified. Absolute courage. Total selflessness. The best of what we can strive to be,” a runner said.
That last message in particular struck me as important, especially as my kids gear up for the Terry Fox run on September 18. I love the idea that we’re not fixed in our identities. That we can morph and change and improve, not just in our running, obviously, but in how we treat each other and greet the world. What is Terry Fox’s teachable lesson? What should our kids see in Terry Fox, in, hopefully, at least a little bit, in us? I looked at more notes from our readers on what Terry Fox means to them.
“His motivation and determination changed cancer research forever,” a reader said.
“I admire how he fought through his pain because the cause was so important,” said another runner.
“When I think of Terry Fox, I think of strength, resilience, honour, commitment, and a gentle soul that was selfless,” read one note.
Selflessness is perhaps the characteristic I feel like is most needed in our modern times. While everyone looks out for themselves—their race times, ambitions, and needs—it’s that rare person who actually puts other people first. Terry Fox changed the world on one leg and a rusty prosthetic and in the course of his dedicated journey has raised nearly a billion-dollars for cancer research. As we approach the annual Terry Fox run, which will reach more than 650 communities across the country—uniting us all in the way no politician can—it’s a good opportunity to think about our own role in the world.
What will your legacy be? How will you measure up against Terry Fox?
“When I think of Terry Fox, I envision his perseverance to leave an example to others opposed to surrendering to fate, and that’s inspiring,” wrote a reader.
“I think about how one person can change a nation,” said someone else.
“I was 19-years-old and saw Terry when he came through Ottawa and did the ceremonial kick off at a Rough Rider game,” wrote David Daze, a great friend of iRun and a well-known runner in the community. “The inspirational aspect of the Marathon of Hope had a profound effect on me, to the point where I kept a picture of Terry in my classroom for all thirty-four years of my teaching career.“
The Terry Fox Run is next week and it’s a great teaching moment and a great moment to take stock of our own lives. We all know what Terry Fox did and how he lived and how he’s remembered. The question is: what will each of us do in our own lives? It’s never too late to begin.