The ceremony held in Assiniboine Park to induct Terry Fox into the WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame and the presentation of the bronze medallion award was a special occasion for the immediate family, relatives and friends of the Canadian folk hero.
Since the Citizens Hall of Fame was established in 1986, when former mayor Steve Juba was the first to be inducted, a reception and ceremony has been held every year to honour one or more deserving inductees (some years two inductees are chosen) who have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions to the city’s quality of life and/or the recognition they have brought to Winnipeg through their works and achievements.
This year’s inductee fought through incredible adversity by summoning all of his inner strength and athletic prowess to bring attention to the insidious and devastating effects of cancer. More importantly, through his Marathon of Hope, Terry Fox set the wheels in motion to raise millions of dollars for cancer research so that better treatments and cures could be found. Thirty years later, his legacy lives on through the commitment of other people to his cause.
Olympic athletes such as Clara Hughes, Jon Montgomery and Kristina Groves have signed Medallist Edition replica shoes from the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games that will be put on eBay this month to raise further money for cancer research as part of the 30th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope.
Terry Fox’s mother, Betty Fox, presented a poignant and powerful thank you speech at the Citizens Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She expressed her pride in how much her son’s Marathon of Hope has moved the world to raise money to combat cancer.
The following are excerpts from her speech.
“We are very appreciative and know Terry would be honoured to be a member of the Citizens Hall of Fame in the city of his birth and where so many extended family live. I think we all feel one of the things that contributed to the determination that Terry had in running across Canada was having that Prairie, Winnipeg and Manitoba stock within him.
“Terry was born on July 28, 1958, after his brother Fred and before Brother Darrell and Sister Judi, all born here in Winnipeg. Terry’s dad, Rolly, was born and raised in Winnipeg, along with his brothers and sisters. I was born in Boissevain, raised in Melita with my brothers and sisters. Terry was eight years old when we moved our family to B.C. After that, we made many summer family trips to visit family in Winnipeg, Selkirk, or Melita. Rolly and I still visit family in Manitoba, usually every year.
“As Terry was running further into Northern Ontario in August 1980, Terry was looking forward to seeing familiar faces, and reaching Winnipeg would have been a huge psychological boost to Terry, knowing that he was on the prairies and getting closer to home. But as we know, Terry was forced to stop his Marathon of Hope just east of Thunder Bay on September 1 about two weeks short of reaching Winnipeg.
“Even though Terry wasn’t able to continue his run, his dream of finding a cure for cancer still continues almost 30 years later.
“Terry did his part in 1980 by running an average of 26 miles every day for 143 days, raising not only funds, but awareness of the devastating toll cancer can have. When he died, he passed the torch to us, his family, and to all Canadians to continue what he started in the hope that one day a cure for cancer would be found.
“Terry’s legacy over the past 30 years has seen over $500 million raised for cancer research in his name, not only here in Canada, but over the years in more than 50 countries around the world. The result of monies raised has impacted directly the advances made in treating cancer and discovering its causes.
“During the Marathon of Hope, Terry never wavered from his conviction that what he was doing would ultimately make a difference in someone’s life. Today, Terry’s unselfish sacrifice has made a difference in the lives of so many that have survived their own personal battle with cancer.
“It touches our family deeply knowing that Terry continues to make people believe that each one of us can make a difference.
“Terry said, ‘I want to set an example that will never be forgotten.’
“Terry’s example of perseverance, courage and inspiration is as important today as it was in the year after his Marathon (of Hope).
“On behalf of our family and our extended family that’s here today, I must thank Canadians, as it is their love for him and commitment to his dream that has kept Terry alive in so many hearts and minds for so long.
“We thank you for recognizing Terry and inducting him in the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame.”
It should be pointed out that Betty Fox also mentioned that, if not for Terry’s willingness to add additional kilometers to his run in Nova Scotia and Ontario, he would have made it to Winnipeg before the onset of cancer in his lungs halted his run prior to reaching Thunder Bay.
Of course, Terry had to be nominated to be inducted in the hall of fame. Winnipegger Norma Currie’s heartfelt nomination submission and in-person presentation at the cremony explained why her nominee was deserving of the award. Nominators are often unheralded, but generally do a terrific job of stating the case for their nominee.
Norma Currie’s speech at the induction ceremony brought Betty Fox to the verge of tears.
The following are excerpts from her speech.
“Terry Fox is the person I admire most in the world. It never ceases to astonish me that he ran a marathon a day (26 miles a day), seven days a week for more than 4 2⁄3 months, on one leg, through every kind of weather imaginable, including ice storms, summer heat, and bitter winds of such velocity he couldn’t move, running across Canada’s rough and diversified terrain, up and down huge hills, and being forced off the road at times by vehicles. His amputated stump was bleeding and sore and you could see the strain in his face as he ran, but he still kept running to rid the world of one of the longest existing, horrendous diseases. The sheer determination, incredible perseverance, and tremendous courage it took to do all that is unfathomable.
“And he had one growth the size of a lemon in one lung and one lump the size of a golf ball in the other for at least part of the run. I still get tears in my eyes when I hear his story, or see video clips or pictures of him running down roads and the barren, lonely stretches of highway.
“His entire focus since having his leg amputated was devoted to raising money and awareness for cancer research so that other people wouldn’t have to suffer or die from the disease. And while in hospital, after his run had to end abruptly, his focus was on getting better so (that) he could continue his Marathon of Hope. Darrell Fox mentioned in an e-mail to me that he knew Terry would trade all the awards and tributes bestowed on him for one more dollar for cancer research.
“The inscription on the Citizens Hall of Fame plaque states, ‘to honour Winnipeggers who have made outstanding contributions to Winnipeg’s quality of life,’ and the Voluntary Service category states, ‘for voluntary activities and dedication that benefit the immediate and global community.’ Terry Fox has gone beyond Winnipeg making outstanding contributions to the world’s quality of life benefitting the immediate and global community.
“All, or most, Winnipeggers either know of someone who has had cancer, has died of cancer, or have it themselves. I’ve lost my father, an 11-year-old cousin, and an uncle to different types of cancer, (and) know seven other people who have died of the disease, three more who have survived, and three others who are battling it now. And I’m not an unusual case. For anyone having to suffer through this disease, it’s heart wrenching.
“Terry Fox left behind a legacy, and to date, Terry’s efforts have already raised more than $500 million for cancer research.
“It was a decade before Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope and the famous quote, ‘Somewhere the hurting must stop,’ when my little cousin died of leukemia. Now, the survival rate for that type of cancer and others is much, much higher. Instead of children courageously fighting a battle to a horrendous disease and losing, many are playing soccer, playing around with their friends, and creating many happy memories that will last a lifetime that wouldn’t have been possible without Terry’s efforts.
“What Terry Fox did was one of the most unparalleled, heroic, humanitarian efforts of all time, and people of all ages across Canada and around the world stood up and took notice. Terry was truly inspirational and touched the hearts of people everywhere. And, he changed people’s views of the disabled by running 26 miles per day on one leg.
“Terry was honourable and showed dignity, integrity, and more than 100 per cent effort. His sense of humour was so endearing. My face still lights up every time I see photographs of him with that twinkle in his eye and warm, wonderful smile. He is an exemplary role model for our children and children all over the rest of Canada and the world. His ability to unite a nation for a common goal is exceptionally rare to find, especially in someone so young. He captivated every age group when he spoke, with throngs of people riveted to his every word. The amount of love and respect for him around the world is immeasurable. His
efforts and accomplishments are miraculous and unprecedented. These are reasons I also requested the categories of World Humanitarian and World Hero to honour Terry.
“Terry’s dream of eradicating the suffering caused by cancer is ongoing with the Terry Fox Run in close to 30 countries ..., giving hope that more cures will be found saving more of our lives and those near and dear to us. It seems fitting that the route for the Terry Fox Run participants in Winnipeg goes right past the Citizens Hall of Fame each year, and that the Hall of Fame is located in Assiniboine Park, where Terry visited with his family when he was a boy.
“Winnipeg’s Citizens Hall of Fame is unique in North America and is a permanent memento to the pursuit and attainment of individual excellence and achievement, a repository of local history, and a source of education for the Winnipeg community and tourists. Terry Fox is so deserving of this honour, because what he did to bring about awareness to the disease and raise money for cancer research was, is now, and will still be important in the future, and because of what a remarkable, unforgettable way in which this extremely important event in history was done.
“Although Terry was exceptionally modest and referred to himself as just an ‘ordinary guy,’ he taught us all that, ‘Dreams are made if people try,’ and that sometimes even the impossible is possible. I am so proud to be from the same city where Terry was born and lived for more than a third of his life, and am so happy that Terry Fox is being inducted into Winnipeg’s Citizens Hall of Fame, especially with 2010 being the 30th anniversary of Terry’s Marathon of Hope.”
Local sculptor Erin Brown has been commissioned to do a bronze sculpture of Terry Fox. Upon completion, it will be installed next year at the Citizens Hall of Fame site in Assiniboine Park. The bronze portrait of Sol Kanee, last year’s inductee, will be installed in the park later this fall.