Today is Monday, July 14, 2008. Twenty eight years ago quite early in the morning of Monday, July 14, 1980, I sat on the south of Lakeshore Blvd at the base of Walkers Line in Burlington, Ontario.
In full view was an image now indelibly cast in my memory of this determined young man running in a double-step and skip style suited for his prosthetic leg, on his way from Oakville to Hamilton.
All of a sudden I was completely overcome by uncontrollable emotions that I had never quite experienced before. I was only one of a few who were there to offer support to Terry Fox as he came by, and after I feebly roused a “Go Terry” he waved over to me; that’s when I totally lost it.
I was a member of the Canada Jaycees and while fundraising we had been having a heck of a time trying to get the word out about the Terry Fox run.
As it happens we didn’t have to worry because Terry’s visuals, and especially his sound bites, were finally being seen and heard by Canadians. This remarkable young man’s dream was discovered and stirred a nation, creating a new found sense and level of Canadian pride.
When I was much younger I had heroes, some fictitious, from comics, TV, the cinema and sports, but hardly the type that I would realistically consider a role model and want to emulate. At the age of 30 I had a true hero whose fortitude, integrity and altruism, where genuine and inspiring.
Terry was the real deal and the greatest Canadian of my time.
Last year I remember sharing my personal accounts with a fellow Realtor and friend, Barrie Seaton, an exceptional man himself. For the 2007 Terry Fox campaign Barrie was busy collecting pledges after volunteering to get his head shaved in the Great Canadian Head Shave in Terry’s hometown of Port Coquitlam.
I offered to shave Barrie’s head but he declined. Instead Barrie shared his own wonderful and emotional story of seeing Terry, a month after I had, on the Trans-Canada Highway between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa as he was at that time running beyond the halfway point of the planned country-wide run.
Little did we know of Terry’s ordeal or that he would have to stop running a few weeks later after more than 3330 miles.
On Labour Day in 1980 the run came to an end but the Marathon of Hope has continued ever since.
He would have been 50 this year on July 28, and although Terry isn’t with us the miracle he believed in is. “Go Terry!”