Terry Fox was just an average kid that loved playing sports and hanging out with his friends and family.
At the age of 18, he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma. While in hospital he decided to help others that were suffering from cancer. Over the next three years, he began a journey to become one of our greatest Canadian heroes.
Terry Fox took the first steps in his journey to make our country a little better for all of us. For 143 days, we followed his cross-Canada Marathon of Hope as it gained momentum, ultimately raising over $24 million. Remarkably, not even Terry’s death in 1981 diminished our nation’s passion for his cancer research legacy, with over $850 million raised and 1,300 projects funded.
Terry Fox School Run – Everything You Need To Know!
Terry never gave up and neither should you. There are many ways to help support this worthy cause. Organize, fundraise, support, volunteer or participate and as long as you Try Like Terry…you can change the world!
Terry Fox Timeline
“Today is the day it all begins…”
Terry starts the day by travelling with Doug to Outer Cove Beach to collect two bottles of Atlantic seawater. He plans on keeping one as a souvenir, and pouring the second one in the Pacific Ocean when he arrives home, but the blustery ocean carries out one to sea.
At 3pm Terry meets Mayor Dorothy Wyatt, has a brief ceremony and begins his Marathon of Hope with a 12-mile run. “I had a police escort out of the city and many people followed me in cars. The mayor ran a few steps with me. Along the way everyone was honking and waving.”
“It was an exciting day in Gambo. People came and lined up and gave me ten, twenty bucks just like that. And that’s when I knew that the run had unlimited potential.”
“Today we got up at 4am. We wanted to cover 14 miles right away because there was going to be a reception at South Brook Junction. I was feeling pretty good and the first 2 3/4 miles went quite nicely then all of a sudden I was seeing 8 pictures of everything. I was dizzy and light headed but I made it to the van. It was a frightening experience. Was it all over? Was everything finished? Would I let everybody down? I told myself it is too late to give up. I would keep going no matter what happened. If I died I would die happy because I was doing what I wanted to do.”
“Today we got up at 4:30am. I got out and did my first 11 miles quite nicely. After we got through Pasadena CBC came out and did an interview. A guy from the Corner Brook radio station CFCB also came to see us. He was a great fellow and later on in the day he and a few others from the radio station ran the last mile with me. CFCB was great because they took pledges. We raised over $7000 here!”
“Last night I had to go out to the van because Doug was snoring. So he got me up at 4:30am and I took off. I did 15 miles. When we took our break Bill Strong arrived with Gladys Willis. We stayed in Gladys’ Lodge during the break and I signed her wall! Then I took off again. People were gathering for a motorcade that was to leave from the Visitors Bureau. We were 1 and 1/2 hours ahead of time so I rested. We got to the Bureau and then from there ran to the Port aux Basques arena. Here I did my speech than back out to the Bureau and then did my last 3 miles to the ferry terminal. It was great to get here! We raised $10,000 in Port aux Basques which is fabulous!”
“Last night we didn’t sleep all that well because of the rolling ship. We got up at 6:30am Nova Scotia time. I left the ship and met George Thom who did a marvelous job organizing the day. I ran with a group of kids [from North Sydney’s Thompson High School and Memorial High School Sydney Mines] to city hall where I met the Mayor. We drove back out to where we left off and I took off. CBC was filming me all the while. There were only going 5 miles an hour when I heard this huge freight truck barreling up and not slowing down. It hit the CBC vehicle at 50 miles an hour. One CBC crew member fell back onto the highway and into the ditch. I thought he was dead. It was terrible. If I was 5 yards further ahead I would have been killed. I couldn’t run anymore.”
“Today I took off at 5:10am. It was a beautiful morning. At Port Hastings the Mayor [Billy Joe MacLean] and others were waiting to see me. It was very nice. I would have liked to have done more miles but I ran out of time. I was getting stopped continuously. During the last 6 miles we picked up $150. We were 8 miles out of Antigonish and a mile past Heatherton.”
“Today I got up at 4:30am. I felt better than yesterday. The ups and downs didn’t hurt so much. After my break I ran until a lady from Sheet Harbour came to see me. They had a reception set up with the schools for 5pm and they wanted me to run with the school kids. I found out that Darrell would be coming out at the end of the month. I went out and ran 2 1/2 miles with the kids. I really burned it just to show them how fast I could go. They were tired and puffing. All right!”
“Today I got up at 4:30am. I ran through Dartmouth very early on the #7 and then went on the #118. The #118 later joined the #102. I got my first 15 in alright. We rested right beside the highway so my parents could see me. But I couldn’t sleep because the traffic was so bad. I went out to run on the divided highway against traffic and it was terrible, nobody would give me any room. It was very frustrating and upsetting. I managed to do the 12 miles anyways. We had a very relaxing meal with my parents and I showed them my souvenirs. I am very happy they came. (1/6th of the way)”
“Today I got up at 4:30am and we drove to my starting point. I ran 10 miles that got me 1 mile past Truro. After that we drove back to the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth. From there we drove to a point 3 miles from Halifax City Hall and then ran back with a police escort. I met the Mayor of Halifax. We took the ferry across the bay to meet the Mayor of Dartmouth. Then I ran to the Vocational School with 50 students – they had raised $3,000. A great group of kids! I did my speech and could not help but cry when I said Doug had to have the courage to put up with and understand me when I am tired and irritable.”
“Today I made it out of bed again at 4:30am. Boy, was it a beautiful morning. PEI is beautiful! A guy from the local radio station was actually there at 5am when we took off. He covered us all day. What tremendous support. There were tons of people out to cheer me on and support me. We collected over $600 on the road, our best so far. We also learned that in Newfoundland they now have $40,000. I was very sore and tired now. I can hardly even walk. When I came out of the van after my rest I was weary. There was a long line up of cars and people to cheer me on. So I made it. I had another dizzy spell. (1/5 of the way)”
“There were lots of people out to cheer me on and support me. Incredible! … I had another dizzy spell during the Run. Still freezing, but I wasn’t wearing sweats so people could see my leg. I’d run just over twenty-eight miles.”
“Today I was scheduled to run into Charlottetown at 9am. Therefore I got a chance to sleep in. It was great! We got up at 7am. I went and ran 3 miles into town. Along the way 2 schools greeted me and cheered me on. Many people are congratulating me and I cannot figure out what for. It was an outstanding reception by a great town and province. We busted our butts out to make the ferry! From Cape Tormentine I ran 15 miles along highway 955. Highway 955 is very rough – this is part of the reason my runners are wearing so fast and I am getting blisters and chafing.”
“We learned that Saint John would have nothing organized for us. I try so hard and then get let down. I am going to run right down this city’s main street. Doug is going to follow behind and honk. We will be rebels, we will stir up noise. People will know Terry Fox ran out of his way to Saint John for a reason!”
“I couldn’t sleep at all last night. Too hot and humid. I was dead all morning for the 12 miles. Very, very tired. We ran through Petitcodiac where the school kids clapped me on. The next 10 miles were better and we got back on the Trans Canada. The paved shoulder had a steep slant and it is hard on my ankles. I took another break during which I did phone calls and then did my last 7 miles. Then we drove back 50 miles to Moncton for a press conference and a dinner (fundraising). After that we drove 50 miles to bed.”
“Today we all made it up. For once I got a good 8 hour sleep. The first couple of miles went nicely – the next 4 miles were awful. I kept trying to adjust my leg as it was rubbing on the bone and it really hurt. The #7 highway is very narrow, windy and dangerous with lots of traffic. It is really good to have Darrell along. The next 10 miles were not good. It got boiling hot. I got very tired and the miles went slow. I took my break and tried again but only managed a mile. I am very tired and sore, I need a break and have to take it. I will turn failure into victory.”
“Today we got up drove back to our spot and I took off. I thought I had really burned up the first 12 miles but apparently not. The next 14 miles took me through Fredericton on the #2 all the way to Mactaquac. They were tough and slow but I made it. Then we went to Kingsclear Indian Reserve where we had beautiful salmon and bread with the band manager. We then went to the Bingo hall where I spoke.”
“Today it was a beautiful morning. No wind. We ran by Hartland and then got on the 105 on the east side of the Saint John river. After 12 miles I found out we had to drive back to Hartland to meet the mayor. He wasn’t there so I went to a school and spoke to a large group of kids. Then exhausted I slept. Today I had tremendous support. Everyone honked and waved. After 8 miles we drove back to Bristol for a dinner, autographs and my speech. Here there was a young man who was in Saint John taking treatment for the same thing I had. I have been there and I said some words of encouragement to him.”
“Today was again a beautiful morning. No wind. The road was rough. I was in pain this morning. Continually stopping to relieve the pressure and pain. Slowly but surely the 12 miles went by and they left me just out of Perth-Andover. We parked in a beautiful grass field alongside the Saint John river. I slept very well while Doug and Darrell read on the river bank. The fire truck and police escorted me 4 miles through Perth-Andover. I flew! I had a police escort for all 14 miles. We joined back on the #2 Trans Canada”
“Today it was a beautiful morning. I did 10 miles that took me just into Grand Falls. My next 12 miles took me through and out of the town. The whole town was there to greet me. I did my speech. It was tremendous support. We did very well fundraising. The camera crew John (Simpson) and Scott (Hamilton) from Toronto joined us and filmed us. It poured rain the last 8 miles.”
“The wind howled again all day. Right in my face. It was very difficult constantly running into the wind. It zaps it right out of your body and head. The only people here who know about the Run are the truckers and the out-of-province people. Everyone else wants to stop and give me a lift.”
“Today I felt alright when I got up. We slept well last night. It was quite cold in the van. The first 12 miles were good and bad, off and on. Very hilly country all day. My stump is still constantly giving me trouble. I had a real long and good sleep break. The next 14 miles were ok. I was pooped at the end. We parked down by a lake. All alone in the woods. Can’t wash or shower or get a haircut.”
“Today the wind changed direction. I did 12 miles and then had a break. John and Scott came out to film us. Then I did 14 more good miles. I was tired and weary because people are continuously forcing me off the road. They all drive at 80 mph and don’t slow down for nothing. It is wearisome. We talked and ate with John and Scott and then did a long interview. In bed late again.”
“Today the wind was out again. I did 11 miles and then we had to drive to the Jacques Cartier bridge. Here with other runners and eventually Don Sweet and some wheelchair athletes we ran to the Four Seasons Hotel on Sherbrooke Street. There was a warm reception and lots of media. Here I saw (good friend) Clay (Gamble). It was an enjoyable time. Then I went to the Canadian Open Golf Tournament with Clay, Doug and Darrell.”
Terry was welcomed to Ontario by a crowd by 200, a band playing, and thousands of balloons, which read: WELCOME TERRY. YOU CAN DO IT.
“Today we drove 9 miles into Ontario and I ran 10 miles. We drove back to Quebec where I rested before running over the bridge into Hawkesbury. Here we had a very warm welcome waiting. I talked to reporters and then took off running again and I ran to where I started this morning. These miles also went nicely. We met Leslie Scrivener today and she is a very nice person.”
“Today CBC was there to film as I walked out the door at 4:30am. They followed me for the first 10 miles then left me for the last 2. I ran very, very well. Felt really good, no wind and not hot or cold. I took a break during which I couldn’t sleep, too hot then tore through 14 miles. I made it through Cumberland County. I had tremendous support from the OPP. It was easy for me because I didn’t have to worry about traffic.”
“I was sore and tired because I didn’t sleep last night. I took a break at 7 miles and then did 8 more. After that I went to the Ottawa – Saskatchewan football game where I kicked off the opening ball to a standing ovation.”
Terry collapsed in the van from exhaustion – his face was a brilliant red, his breath heavy, his eyes closed as if blocking out the light and the pain with a wrinkled $100 bill, damp from perspiration, clasped tightly in his hands.
“Today I developed one huge cyst on the back of my stump. It was very sore. The wind was in my face again today. It was very humid but the sun was not out. The first 12 miles were ok. I slept well than ripped off 14 more miles with a police escort. Jack Hilliard (Canadian Cancer Society district rep) was with us here, he is a fantastic man. After that I showered, ate supper in Madoc, spoke at a baseball game and another location”.
“Today was a great day. I finished in Havelock. In Marmora at my 12 mile break, I was given a fabulous reception and a church organ played “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. All day I had tremendous receptions. We raised $700 on the road today.”
John and Edna Neale waited hours for Terry to pass by. When they finally saw him, they said, “He was just what was needed to give us a little pride in our own people, the same kind Americans have in abundance.”
“Today was a good day. I did an interview with (Sarah Purcell from) Real People. Ran all the way through Oshawa. People lined the streets all the way. Then I had a great reception at the local mall. Simply nothing like it before.”
Terry told several thousand people that his fame was not meant to be of the Run, he wasn’t interested in wealth or notoriety, and that he was just a guy running across the country to collect money for cancer research. He also said that the Marathon had to continue even without him.
“Today I couldn’t run as I didn’t sleep last night. I met my parents and Judy in a surprise meeting at 3 miles. Slept for 5 hours and then did 10 more which took me into Metro Toronto. Again unreal reception.”
Terry meets his hockey idol Darryl Sittler who gave Terry his 1980 NHL all-star team sweater. Darryl said, “I’ve been around athletes a long time and I’ve never seen any with his courage and stamina.” One on-looker commented, “He makes you believe in the human race again.”
“Today I did 8 miles in the morning. Then I did Canada AM and went to a very emotional reception at Scarborough (Civic Centre) where I did my best speech. A cute girl (Anne Marie Von Zuben) with cancer gave me a rose and it broke me up. Then I ran to Nathan Phillips Square. Thousands of people cheered me on.”
“Today I started at 9:30am and did 20 miles. The roads were full today and the people cheered me all the way. It is simply beyond imagination.”
“Today I could only do two miles in the morning and then I slept. I came back out and did 8 more. Then we drove to London where I ran 4 miles through the city to a park reception where there were thousands. Tony Coutinho (young Leukemia patient) ran the final mile with me. Then I slept the day away.”
“Today was slow because of continuous delays. First of all I was stopped at 9 miles just before Guelph. Then I ran 2 miles in and spoke to a good gathering. I ran 5 miles out of Guelph then my feet/legs started to wobble – I began to shake and get dizzy. I had to stop and get to bed. I did 4 miles and then drove to Georgetown for a reception.”
Terry celebrated his 22nd birthday along with 2,000 other people at the Gravenhurst Civic Centre. One of his gifts was a new artificial limb. The community of 8,000 people raised $14,000.
“Today was a great day! I did 12 miles in the rain in the morning. Went to the Holiday Inn for a birthday party and a cake fight! Slept for 5 hours and then went out and did 8 more bringing me 12 short of Gravenhurst. I went to Beaver Creek prison for a reception and then a wonderful birthday party in Gravenhurst.”
“Today was alright. The morning 12 miles were good. Cool and no wind. The next 14 were hard with wind, humidity and heat. Jack Lambert had to leave today. I will miss him. 20 miles away from Sudbury.”
“Today was awful. I found out we had passed the half way point already and that there is something wrong with the van. Very slight but it adds up. Very tired, hot and I am worn. Made it to Sudbury.”
“Today we figured out that the van error was 4%. Didn’t even sleep last night so slept in and then did 11 miles followed by 15 more. It was a good day though the final few miles were torture. Made it to Bruce Mines.”
“Today my knee broke after 8 miles. Took my break and the replaced knee was awful. Sluggish day. Struggled through 14 more miles. Took a break after 10 which put me in the Soo (Sault Ste Marie). Tremendous reception here.”
“Today was a good day. 10 in the morning which took me up Montreal River hill. I ran all the way non stop. Took it great. Felt good. Did 16 in a row in the afternoon. Very tired and sore at the end.”
“Today I didn’t get started until 6:30am. Did 11 hard miles in the rain. Went two miles up “Old Woman” it was a toughie. Made it to and past Wawa on my second run of 12 miles. Very fatigued and tired.”
“Today I had a good run in the morning 13 miles. All was perfect weather. No wind and in the afternoon my ankle started to hurt again. Greg rode his bike behind me for about 6 miles and it has to be the most inspirational moment I have had! The final 13 were hard but I made it! At night we had a beautiful reception in Terrace Bay. I spoke about Greg and couldn’t hold back the emotion!”
“Today was a difficult day. I didn’t sleep last night and was wiped before I started. Exhausted and fatigued all day long. Got a lovely beautiful poem from Rika that lifted my spirits. I feel sick tonight.”
As he neared the 18 mile mark, Terry could see miles of supporters along the highway, cheering him on, saying, “Keep going, you can do it, we’re all behind you.” Terry felt like he was having a heart attack, the pain was so intense. He took a break and crawled into his sleeping bag, hoping the pain might subside. It didn’t. Terry got back up, ran another mile until he could see no more people along the road. It was then he said to himself, “This may be my last mile.” He got in the van and asked his best friend Doug to take him to a hospital. Later that day, Terry called his parents in Port Coquitlam and told them the cancer had returned. He had run his last mile of the Marathon of Hope.
In his last journal entry, all Terry wrote was: “21 miles. 3,339 miles total.”
Today, thousands of schools across Canada raise funds for cancer research by participating in the Terry Fox School Run. Students continue to show incredible examples of leadership, compassion and determination, as they follow in Terry’s footsteps to help others live a better life.
Terry set goals every day. What will yours be?
The Terry Fox Foundation 2021 ©
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