Monday, 1 August 2022

Terry Fox Day

Today is an official statutory holiday in most provinces, and each of the provinces seems to have their own name for the day off despite the Canadian government recognizing August 1 as Emancipation Day in Canada. The honouring of Terry Fox, shown above in a Darryl Sittler all-star jersey, with this day began in 2015 as Terry was born in Winnipeg as the province decided to honour his legacy with a holiday where all could reflect on the amazing effort Terry Fox gave in his Marathon of Hope after losing a leg to osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that primarily affects young people.

Despite living in BC and being born in Winnipeg, Terry's favorite hockey players while growing up were Toronto's Darryl Sittler and Boston's Bobby Orr. Sittler and Orr met Terry Fox in Toronto during the Marathon of Hope, and both played big roles in helping to raise funds through the Terry Fox Run telethon after Fox was forced to stop running after cancer had spread to his lungs. Meeting Terry was something that Darryl had wanted to do as much as Terry had hoped for when it came to meeting one of hs hockey heroes.

"I continued to follow the news about him on the tour, but he wasn’t getting much exposure," Sittler told the Canadian Expat Network. "Bill Vigars, head of the Ontario Cancer Society, contacted me about meeting with Terry when he approached Toronto. I wanted to meet Terry as much as he wanted to meet me. We met at the Four Season’s Hotel and I found him very humble and shy.

“He had already done 13 miles that day. I brought my shorts and t-shirt, so I had the opportunity to run with him down University Avenue. There were thousands of people in attendance and it was very emotional. Before I left home, I had picked up my All Star Jersey to give to Terry."

The two jogged down University Avenue before arriving at Nathan Phillips Square where Fox was going to speak to the crowd of 10,000 that had gathered to celebrate Fox's efforts, but Sittler made the event a little bigger thanks to his star power. It was at this Nathan Phillips Square meeting where Sittler presented Fox with his NHL All-Star Game jersey in honour of his efforts to raise both awareness and funds for cancer research, and the 21 year-old Fox donned the jersey that his hockey hero wore before speaking to the enthusiastic crowd. It was estimated that the Canadian Cancer Society raised close to $100,000 that day alone as his Marathon of Hope came to an end, and Terry Fox would meet Bobby Orr later in the day where Orr presented him a cheque for $25,000 before the two went for dinner.

Unfortunately, Terry Fox passed away on June 28, 1981, and the Canadian government ordered that flags be flown at half-mast in honour of Fox. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau stated, "It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death... We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity."

The Terry Fox Foundation continues to raise funds for cancer research and cancer cures in Canada and across the world. It's said that everyone knows someone who has battled cancer in some form - Terry Fox might be that person you know after his courageous Marathon of Hope. While today may be Terry Fox Day in Manitoba, I believe Fox would gladly trade any honours and accolades he received if it meant curing future generations of people of cancer. If you're able, please donate to the Terry Fox Foundation to help them achieve their goal.

Rest in peace, Terry. Manitoba may honour Terry Fox with a day of reflection, but his efforts in raising awareness and funds for cancer research while battling the disease makes him one of the greatest Canadians of all-time, ranking above both Darryl Sittler and Bobby Orr.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: