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A New Memorial for Our Hero, Terry Fox

Terry Fox running his Marathon of Hope

My three children have each studied heroes in their kindergarten curriculum.  I usually get about one sentence into the the characteristics of a hero before we talk about Terry Fox.  He is the definition and embodiment of hero to Canadians, and it’s hard not to get emotional when we remember him.  I am crying by the end of our hero discussion.

Anyone dying before their time is sad. But picture a young man running across our large desolate country with one leg, long before a prosthesis actually geared for running was made, to raise money for the disease that made him an amputee. It wasn’t only courageous, it was super-human.

Terry’s lasting legacy continues to raise money for cancer research.  Although he wasn’t able to finish his Marathon of Hope when cancer spread to his lungs, he succeeded in so many ways.  He brought Canada to its knees when he died nine months after halting his run across the country. The funds generated in his memory have been rolling in ever since, the current tally raised for cancer research under his name exceeds $500 million dollars.

Terry Fox, up close and personal, and the reason we will one day find a cure for cancer.

Since Terry grew up in Port Coquitlam, it’s right and proper that British Columbia should have an impressive memorial to this most famous of citizens. Yesterday they unveiled the plans for a new memorial in front of BC Place Stadium. Like I’d hoped, it is a stunning piece of art. It shows not one, but four bronze statues of Terry, each getting successively bigger, in various stages of his labored gait. Running is hard, running the distance Terry did seems almost impossible, running the way that Terry needed to run each step is, again, super-human.  This rendering helps all of us to see the massive amount of effort that went into each step of his Marathon of Hope.

A rendering of the proposed Terry Fox Memorial

This sculpture of our Canadian hero will be created by Douglas Coupland – very fittingly, since Coupland is also a shining star from British Columbia. The artist that brought us the iconic book “Generation X” has also created the uber-cool statue Digital Orca at the new Vancouver Convention Center, proving he is a creative mind of many genres.

Coupland's Digital Orca at Vancouver Convention Center

Most interestingly, Coupland also wrote a biography of Fox, “Terry”, so has spent lots of time with the Fox family, a perfect choice to memorialize our Canadian icon. He reportedly worked with animators to recreate Fox’s running stride. When the original is unveiled this coming September with the opening of the refurbished stadium, it will inevitably bring tears to the eyes of anyone lucky enough to gaze upon it.

As I write this, my brother is undergoing a surgery that will remove a cancerous growth on his knee; on Christmas Eve my sixteen year-old nephew finally left the hospital after two and a half months of intensive chemotherapy for lymphoma; my father died of cancer eighteen years ago.  Heroes come in many forms, hopefully there will come a day when they don’t need to conquer cancer for that worthy status.

Thanks to Terry Fox, that day will come sooner than later.

  1. January 20, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Really moving, and the memorial looks like it will be absolutely stunning. Hearing of people like him makes you realize that we are capable of a lot more than we typically think! Great post!

    • January 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      Terry’s Marathon of Hope was in 1980 – I should have mentioned that for you all south of the border not as familiar with him – so the fact he continues to be a household name for people like my children is a testament to his strength, courage and determination.
      Thanks, Tori!

  2. January 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    A moving memorial you’ve presented here, as well. I’m afraid I was not familiar with Terry Fox, but, gosh, I’m glad you shared this. And I’m sorry to hear your family has faced such struggles with cancer. I think bloggers should do more posts like this one!

  3. January 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Thank you for this, Deanna…the timing couldn’t have been more appropriate for me…my best friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer, and I found out about it last night.

    Terry Fox was certainly an inspiration for all of us!

    Sending you good wishes for your brother and your nephew’s recovery.


    • January 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      Thanks Wendy – hopefully your friend will be heartened by the many good outcomes now possible; I wish her all the strength she will need to beat her cancer.

  4. lucieloves
    January 21, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Thanks for the moving post Deanna – Terry Fox continues to inspire us all.

  5. John Regan
    January 27, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Hi Dee:
    Just home from the hospital today(Jan 26), (No internet connection if you can believe!) Always great to read your blogs….you rock!!


    • January 27, 2011 at 6:11 am

      Welcome home – YAY! That’s great news; the doctor liked what he saw, obviously. You’ll be golfing in no time! We are all breathing a huge sigh of relief with your good news. Stay strong.

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