Monday, September 20, 2010

How Terry Fox Sparked Cancer Awareness For 30 Years

The Terry Fox Story"Even if I don't finish, we need others to continue. It's got to keep going." — Terry Fox

Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the marathon run across Canada made by humanitarian and athlete Terry Fox. If you are unfamiliar with Fox, what made his 143-day and 3,339-mile run historic was that he did it with one leg. The other was amputated in 1977 after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

Fox never finished his quest to run across Canada. He was forced to quit after the cancer spread to his lungs. He died nine months later, but others made sure Fox's vision remained. His original goal to raise $24 million ($1 from every Canadian at the time) has since earned more than 20 times that amount, more than $550 million raised by participants in more than 60 countries.

How The Marathon Of Hope Turned Into The Terry Fox Run.

Nothing was easy about his first run in 1980. Fox was met with gale force winds, heavy rain and a snowstorm. Initially, he was disappointed in the reception until reaching Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. The town's 10,000 residents presented him with a donation of over $10,000.

The reason the marathon still exists today is due largely to the generous early support of Isadore Sharp, founder of the Four Seasons Hotels. Sharp had lost his son to cancer. Fox agreed to a marathon in his name, but only on the condition it would remain non-competitive (anyone can walk, run, or ride) and there would be no corporate sponsors (Fox turned down every endorsement he was offered during his run).

The first Terry Fox Run was held on Sept. 13, 1981. Since, it has been held about two weekends after Labor Day every year. You can learn more about the run here. It's never too late to think about next year.

"I want to set an example that will never be forgotten.” — Terry Fox

There have been two biopics made about Fox. The first, Terry Fox Story was produced by HBO in 1983, starring Eric Fryer (also an amputee). The second, Terry, starring Shawn Ashmore, was released in 2005. The latter focused more on the Marathon of Hope and was endorsed by the Fox family. Both movies were based on the book, Terry Fox: His Story (Revised), by Leslie Scrivener.

The Terry Fox Run Is A Liquid Hip Goodwill Pick.

At least once a month, Liquid [Hip] highlights one goodwill effort being undertaken by courageous people with big hearts. We don’t score such efforts. That honor belongs to you.

Fox has been the inspiration behind many cancer research foundations, fundraisers, and runs all over the world (even those not affiliated with his name). The Susan G Komen Race For A Cure was founded in 1983.

Recently, in an effort to raise awareness, iTunes has also been relisting artist compilations to help raise funds for cancer research. Cinnamon Girl, which includes a collection of Neil Young covers, benefits Casting For Recovery (check out the covers by Lori McKenna and Tanya Donelly).

Another EP was recently released for Stand Up To Cancer. The EP is an all-star compilation, called Stand Up To Cancer 2010 (start with the song by Billie Joe Armstrong).
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