Stories of Hope

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It proudly hung on Terry’s wall

I met Terry Fox in Vancouver in 1981 and presented him with an autographed picture of Dolly Parton as you’ll see in the attached photo. The back story is this: myself and then business partner had arranged to stage a celebratory black tie dinner in Vancouver to welcome Terry back upon completion of his ‘Marathon of Hope’. We had the support of the Canadian Cancer Society and in planning we had learned that Dolly Parton was one of his favourite performers. We contacted Dolly’s management to see if she might be able to arrange it to actually perform at the celebration dinner. Unfortunately her schedule had her on the other side of the world around the time of our projected date. She did however send a very heartfelt signed picture which we had planned to present to Terry on that evening. When the run ended and Terry returned home, we were shortly thereafter notified that the run wouldn’t resume and we were asked to attend a press conference Terry was giving at which time we could make our presentation to him – which I did.

Cut to years later and I ran into Bill Vigars – who I had met and spoken with many times. I mentioned to him that I had met Terry and had presented him with the photo. We were at an event at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver during this chat and he mentioned that Terry’s brother Darrell was actually in attendance in the room and I should meet him. When I told Darrell the story he said that in all the chaos that surrounded the run after it ended and given the endless tributes and gifts that were presented to Terry, a lot of the surrounding stories behind those gifts were vague, at best. Such was the case of our picture of Dolly Parton. Darrell told me that while the family were unclear where exactly it came from, it hung proudly on Terry’s wall until the end and remained one of his proudest keepsakes. Suffice to say that I was very emotional upon hearing this and take the utmost pride in knowing that something so simple meant so much to such an amazing human being.

Joe Leary

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Cancer Survivors