An Introduction to Terry Fox

Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, a community near Vancouver on Canada’s west coast. An active teenager involved in many sports, Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977.
While in hospital, Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.
He would call his journey the Marathon of Hope. After 18 months and running over 5,000 kilometres (3,107 miles) to prepare, Terry started his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980 with little fanfare.

Although it was difficult to garner attention in the beginning, enthusiasm soon grew, and the money collected along his route began to mount. He ran close to 42 kilometres (26 miles) a day through Canada’s Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario. However, on September 1st, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles), Terry was forced to stop running outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs. An entire nation was stunned and saddened. Terry passed away on June 28, 1981 at the age 22.
The heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy was just beginning.
To date, over $750 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry’s name through the annual Terry Fox Run, held across Canada and around the world.

Terry Fox - early years

The Early Years

Terrance Stanley Fox was born July 28, 1958, in Winnipeg, Manitoba and was named after uncles on both sides of the family. He had an older brother Fred and a younger brother and sister, Darrell and Judith.

Early pictures show Terry as a serious child, wearing a white shirt and bow tie in one photo, a cowboy shirt with fringed trousers in another. Even as a child, the qualities that would bring him success in later life were in place. He was determined and tenacious.

Terry’s mother Betty recalled that as a toddler he stacked wooden blocks tirelessly. If they tumbled down, he’d try again and again until they stayed in place.

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Terry Fox - Marathon of Hope

The Marathon of Hope

September 1, 1980 – It was a dull day in Northern Ontario when Terry Fox ran his last miles.

He had started out strong that morning and felt confident. The road was lined with people shouting, “Don’t give up, you can make it!” words that spurred him and lifted his spirits.

But after 18 miles he started coughing and felt a pain in his chest.

Terry knew how to cope with pain. He’d run through it as he always had before; he’d simply keep going until the pain went away.

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Terry Fox - Facts

Facts About Terry

July 28, 1958 – Terrance Stanley Fox is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

March 9, 1977 – Terry discovers he has a malignant tumour in his right leg; the leg is amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee. The night before his amputation he reads about an amputee runner and dreams of running.

February 1979 – Terry begins training for his Marathon of Hope, a cross-Canada run to raise money for cancer research and awareness. During his training he runs over 5,000 kilometres (3,107 miles).

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Terry Fox - Honours


September 18, 1980 – Governor General Edward Schreyer presents Terry Fox with the Companion of the Order of Canada. He is the youngest recipient of the award.

December 18, 1980 – Sports editors present Terry with the Lou Marsh Award for his outstanding athletic accomplishment.

December 23, 1980 – The editors of Canadian Press member newspapers and the radio and television stations vote Terry, Canadian of the Year.

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Little Fox Picture


“I’ve said to people before that I’m going to do my very best to make it, I’m not going to give up. But I might not make it… if I don’t, the Marathon of Hope better continue.”

“There can be no reason for me to stop. No matter what pain I suffer, it is nothing compared to the pain of those who have cancer, of those who endure treatment.”

“I’ve got cancer in my lungs. We have to go home and do some more treatments. But all I can say is that if there is any way I can get out there and finish, I will.”

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