Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, a community near Vancouver on Canada's west coast. As an active teenager involved in many sports, in 1977 Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with bone cancer and forced to have his right leg amputated six inches above the knee.
The night before his operation, Terry read an article about an amputee who had competed in the New York Marathon. Indirectly that story, along with Terry's observations of the intense suffering of cancer patients, set the stage for what would ultimately become the most important decision of his young life.
In 1980, Terry Fox inspired the nation by attempting to run across Canada with an artificial leg. He called this journey the Marathon of Hope. Its mission was to raise money and awareness for cancer research in Canada.
With little to no attention, Terry started his journey in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980. Although it was difficult to get attention in the beginning, hype soon grew, and the money collected along his route began to rise. He ran 43 kilometers a day through Canada's Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and Ontario.
September 1, 1980 -- it was a dull day in Northern Ontario when Terry Fox ran his last miles. After 18 miles he started coughing and felt a pain in his chest. Terry knew how to cope with pain. He'd despite it as he always had before, he'd simply keep going until the pain went away.
For 3,339 miles, from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada's eastern most city on the shore of the Atlantic, he'd run through six provinces and now was two-thirds of the way home. He'd run close to a marathon a day, for 144 days. A real achievement for an able-bodied runner, an extraordinary feat for an amputee.
He was 22 now, curly haired, sunburned. He was strong, willful and stubborn. His run, the Marathon of Hope, a quixotic adventure across Canada that defied logic and common sense, was his way of repaying a debt. Terry believed that he had won his fight against cancer, and he wanted to raise money, $1 dollars, to fight the disease.