I saw Terry Fox run into London on July 17, 1980. It was a very hot, very humid day, and Terry and his escort came running down Dundas Street past where we were waiting in front of the Armouries. The crowd was enormous, and the atmosphere was electric as people waited for him to arrive.
The runners who were with Terry were carrying buckets, and people were literally opening up their wallets and dumping the contents in. They had great smiles on their faces. Terry was running along with his distinctive gait – the sweat streaming down his face, his hands clutched in fists and held close to his body – a picture of absolute determination to succeed in his Marathon of Hope. We followed along over to the bandshell at Victoria Park, and when Terry stopped running his demeanor changed – he relaxed and smiled as he addressed the thousands of people who came out to see him. I will never forget this as long as I live.
Terry was only a couple of years older than me, and I was truly inspired by what he was doing. What amazing courage, what selfless determination, what generosity of spirit that made him take on this enormous challenge.
In 2005 – the 25th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, I organized the National School Run Day at South Huron District High School. I did this for 10 years, and I still support the event now that I’m retired. I’ve kissed a lot of pigs as a fundraiser, walked a lot of kilometres, and I’ve shared the story with my students of the day I saw a true Canadian hero – Terry Fox!