Monday, September 20, 2010
Most Famous DNF in History
It was called the Marathon of Hope. It was never about Terry Fox, as he said endlessly. It was about declaring war on the Bastard Cancer that was eating away at his body, destroying him at an accelerating rate while he had barely reached adulthood. Terry Fox was on a mission to rally his fellow citizens to join in his war. He knew that he would likely die. He also knew that he wanted to prevent this terrible destruction from being visited on others. He asked that every Canadian donate one dollar toward cancer research.
So Terry hit the road, determined to run across one of the biggest countries on earth. Through initial public indifference, bone jarring exhausting miles, and near defeat, he persisted. Would he have given up if a large corporate donation hadn't arrived? Maybe. But that didn't happen. What did happen was that Terry Fox's dream began to take shape. The public caught on; they were fascinated by this guy who didn't bother to cover his prosthetic leg, who was ruggedly handsome and unerringly intense in his focussed message. The war took shape and continues to be raged today, seemingly unstoppable.
Terry Fox only got about halfway across Canada before the cancer spread to his lungs and stopped him for good. He didn't finish his race. What he did do was set in motion a campaign that has, to date, raised more than half a billion dollars. The Terry Fox Foundation has contributed to some incredible advances in the fight against cancer; untold thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the dollars raised by Terry Fox's legions of runners.
On Sunday, September 19, 2010 I went to the local Cambridge Terry Fox Run. I put a couple of "In Memory of" stickers on my new commemorative tshirt, one for my father and one for my mother-in-law, both of whom died of cancer. I was one of 210 runners of all ages, shapes and sizes, 60 more than showed up last year. The man ahead of me at registration proudly took his sticker to add to his Terry Fox certificate; he had run every Terry Fox run since they started. I overheard another man telling his little daughter that this was how she would change the world, that she was changing the world that day.
This little band of 210 warriors did something important on Sunday, 30 years after Terry Fox began his campaign. For many of us it was a very personal vendetta. It was a very satisfactory battle in a war that is gradually being won, one runner at a time.