Monday, October 4, 2010

Fox the Phoenix

I have gotten used to not having a TV. I no longer know which shows are on, and other than occasional sporting events, there are few times, I wish I could watch. Only twice, in the 15 years since we got rid of our set, have I felt compelled to run in front of a screen. This past Tuesday was one of those times.

30 years ago, the idea of raising money through running was unheard of. Terry Fox, a young man, in his early twenties, changed that. After his cancerous right leg was amputated, he decided to run across his native Canada to raise awareness and money. Although he was a runner, prosthetics were not nearly as advanced as they are now. There was no internet to broadcast his run and he started out with little notice in New Foundland, with a goal of running over 5,000 miles.

Little by little, his countrymen and media started to take notice. People started coming out to cheer him on, run with him or donate. He found himself running a full marathon each day and then speaking to large crowds at night. All this time he slept in a van. Sadly he didn’t finish his journey. After 143 days and more than 3,000 miles, the cancer returned. A short while later, he died in his native British Columbia.

This past Tuesday, ESPN, as part of a series of sports themed movies, showed a documentary about Fox’s life. Although I had heard about his run, I found myself engrossed in the film. Watching him limp (it is hard to call it running) a full marathon every day, brought me to tears. As I watched, I realized that my “challenge” of running five miles on a treadmill was a joke. More than that I felt inspired; inspired not just to keep on running, but to use it as a cause for good. I found myself thinking of new ways to use running to help others.

Although Terry Fox did not finish his “Marathon of Hope” it would be absurd to view his quest as a failure. By the end of his run, he had raised 1.7 million dollars. Subsequently, over 10 million more was raised in a telethon. By the time of his death, the total had reached over 23 million. Fox’s story didn’t stop there. After his death, his family founded the Terry Fox Foundation, a foundation that continues to hold races, raise awareness and much needed funds. To date, over $500 million has been raised, all due to the efforts of this heroic young man.

When I finished my run that evening, there was still 10 minutes left in the film. I slowed to a walk to watch the rest. Although I had considered running for the rest of the time, it was probably for the best that I did not. It is tough to run through tears.

PLEASE donate in my mom’s memory to help children with cancer:

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