"I only think about the next mile"
July 20, 2017 10:01 AM   Subscribe

"Terry Fox dipped his artificial leg into the ocean at St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980, just before setting out to run across Canada, to raise money for cancer research. During those early days of his Marathon of Hope, as he covered the equivalent of a marathon a day, very few people knew of the 21-year-old from Port Coquitlam, B.C. But through the spring and summer of 1980, Fox captivated the nation with his display of will and strength." This is that story in the words of people who were there.
posted by mandolin conspiracy (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
“No dad, you’re wrong. I’m just like everybody else. I’m no different than anybody else. The cancer comes back, I’m the same.”

There was a long pause, and then he said, “Maybe now, people will realize why I’m doing it.”

No amount of time has weakened Fox's story to me and I doubt any amount of time ever will
posted by GuyZero at 10:47 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

As a Vancouverite nothing seems more obvious to me than renaming the airport Terry Fox International. Plus added bonus of flying through TFI rings better than the current YVR. Barring that change, or in addition, the naming of our new February long weekend holiday as the dishwater dull Family Day seems a missed opportunity for the more meaningful Terry Fox Day.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:57 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

"...Not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win."
Terry is one of a very short list of people who's accomplishments never cease to amaze, inspire and (admittedly) scare me just a little. Sometimes you see something and you think "man it's a good thing they didn't know how hard that was going to be" and then there are (again, few) times when you're pretty sure they knew. And they did it anyway.

Pardon me whilst I take a moment.

As a Canadian jussst old enough to remember the end of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope but not old enough to understand until much later I can't remember a time when he wasn't part of the National Conscience. I grew up closer to the middle of the country but now live on the west coast - a reasonable walk from the TransCanada Highway Mile 0 monument. It overlooks the sea (you can see Washington State's Olympic Range on a clear day) at the corner of a very large urban park. The Mile Zero marker shares this spot with a statue of Terry; on the coast he never quite made it back home to.

The Royal BC Museum is very close, on the barbour next door to the provincial legislature. It's a terrific small museum. It features some pretty amazing collections and, generally, a traveling exhibit. If you visit before Oct you can see the fanstastic Terry Fox exhibit. I've been 3 times and will visit again.

A young man who fell a month shy of his 23rd birthday, but will remembered for ever so much longer.
posted by mce at 11:04 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Terry is one of a very short list of people who's accomplishments never cease to amaze...

I don't want to derail, but: Steve Fonyo is also on that list, having actually finished what Terry started, but because he lived long enough to commit the mortal sin of being (very) flawed, he's been largely erased from the public consciousness.

To me, the legacies of Fox and Fonyo are inseparable. I watched Fonyo arrive at Mile Zero as a boy and it was incredible. Frankly, the way people talk about him now, I'm surprised that the tiny sign at Fonyo Beach still stands.
posted by klanawa at 12:15 PM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

I only know about Terry Fox because of some documentary that Douglas Coupland made.

Love him or hate him, Coupland has spread Canadian culture wider than anyone else. At least in this one US person's life.
posted by hippybear at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I only know about Terry Fox because of some documentary that Douglas Coupland made.

In addition to his book Terry, Coupland also designed the statues at the Vancouver Terry Fox memorial that was completed in 2011.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:10 PM on July 20, 2017

Yank here, but I know about this amazing person through The Terry Fox Story, which aired here on HBO in 1983.

Full movie on YouTube.
posted by dnash at 5:22 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I remember that it seemed to take a long time for any excitement to build around his run. He was pretty near the halfway point in Ontario before people took notice in a major way. A few years ago I was jogging near my house in Toronto and passed a crummy old van with Marathon of Hope on the side. I googled and found that it was just a prop from the movie but it was really humbling to see what a cheap, tiny little van it was.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:30 PM on July 20, 2017

I remember Terry Fox being profiled on at least one episode of Real People before he died.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:23 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've always been inspired by Terry Fox.

He refused any corporate sponsors on his run... just him and his two buddies, his shirt falling apart, and all donations must come from individuals. And to this day the Terry Fox foundation remains a highly ethical, cost effective, and supports independent research. They still have a policy of no corporate sponsorhip, and they have a policy that all the runs are open to any participant.
I have Douglas Copeland's book on fox and it's amazing, with photos of the old socks and shirts, and his back yard barbecues with supporters and all the letters from kids he inspired.
posted by chapps at 9:21 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

(thanks for this, I cried when it got to the part about the mom saying he was running for her son who had just died.)
posted by chapps at 9:22 PM on July 20, 2017

Canadians do not have heroes and idols the America does. We don't idealize any of our Prime Ministers universally. We build narratives of course, to cover up some pretty ugly parts of our past.

The only exception to this rule is Terry Fox. And even then, he is thoroughly under-celebrated, though everyone knows him and what he did.
posted by dry white toast at 9:32 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

In addition to his book Terry

I haven't read that, which is a bit shocking, as I own much of Coupland's print output.

I think it was the documentary about Canada House (?) which had a segment on Terry. I honestly found that whole project to be fascinating as I only experienced it through, was it a book or a website? and also that documentary.

Having been an exchange student to (then West) Germany decades ago, I had some insight into how different various "Western" cultures could be. I hadn't really realized exactly how different Canada was until Coupland's project. Basically nothing there was anything I was aware of as a US person.
posted by hippybear at 3:58 AM on July 21, 2017

Oh! Is the documentary Souvenir of Canada? Trailer here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:10 AM on July 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

The CBC has a pretty extensive online archive of stuff - stories, audio, video:

CBC Digital Archives: Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope

He refused any corporate sponsors on his run...

Specifically on sponsorship, here's a segment about Day 129 where he's interviewed and talks about it.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:21 AM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

The only exception to this rule is Terry Fox. And even then, he is thoroughly under-celebrated, though everyone knows him and what he did.

So much this. I grew up in the 80's when it was impossible to be an elementary school child who wasn't aware of Terry Fox and the annual Terry Fox Run. It wasn't until I shacked up with an American who had no idea who Terry Fox was that I realized what a truly Canadian story it was.

I always knew Terry Fox was Canadian of course, but it was never a point of national pride for me until I saw it through the eyes of an outsider.
posted by bkpiano at 6:23 PM on July 22, 2017

That was good.
posted by chunking express at 6:32 AM on July 23, 2017

I was taking a tour of Vancouver at the end of my first trip to Canada at the end of May, and we passed by the Terry Fox statue. Our tour guide, who had lived in Vancouver for a very, very long time and was quite proud of his city, got visibly emotional for a moment, then beamed with pride as he explained who Terry Fox was and what he had done to this group of clueless American tourists.

After we returned home, I looked up some backstory. It's a good one, and very Canadian (in the best way). I didn't realize there was a documentary, but now I'll have to watch it.
posted by PearlRose at 1:48 PM on July 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kkanawa, I also have Fox and Fonyo together in my mind, perhaps because Fonyo actively aimed to complete Terry's goal.
And of course there's also Rick Hansen.

(the charity marathon by an athlete with a disability is so much a part of our national narrative that it was brutally spoofed in the Canadian tv series The Foundation).
posted by chapps at 10:50 PM on July 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

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