Thirty-eight years ago today, Terry Fox died from a battle against osteosarcoma cancer, but not before captivating Canadians everywhere with his heroism and resilience.
In the many months prior, Fox had attempted to complete his Marathon of Hope to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
The Port Coquitlam native dipped his prosthetic leg in the Atlantic Ocean near St. John’s, N.L. on April 12, 1980, with the aim of running across Canada and finishing at the Pacific Ocean in Victoria, B.C.
He didn’t make it. He was forced to abandon his journey at Thunder Bay, Ont., because of pneumonia, caused by his cancer becoming metastatic and spreading to other parts of his body.
It was just after 4:30 a.m. on June 28, 1981, when Fox’s family shared the last few moments of his life while he remained in a coma at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. He was 22 years old.
June 28, 1981 – After treatment with chemotherapy and interferon, Terry Fox dies at Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminster, British Columbia – one month short of his twenty-third birthday. Please give today in honour of Terry's memory. https://t.co/KycXSIu7D8 pic.twitter.com/7KmPzB9She
— TerryFoxFoundation (@TerryFoxCanada) June 28, 2019
“There was nation-wide mourning,” his biography on TerryFox.org reads. “Flags were flown at half-mast. But people didn’t forget him and his story didn’t end with his death.”
While his physical goal may not have been reached, Fox raised $23.4 million for cancer research.
The first Terry Fox Run was held that September. More than 300,000 people walked or ran or cycled in his memory and raised $3.5 million.
Since then, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $750 million towards finding cures for various cancers through donations and annual runs hosted across the world.
This year’s run is set for Sept. 15, 2019. To find an event in your city, click here.