On April 12, 1980 Terry Fox began the Marathon of Hope, a run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He would cover 5,300 kilometers (3,339 miles) over 143 days before cancer returned forcing Terry to stop running on September 1, 1980. Terry died on June 28, 1981. The Fox family lost their son and brother early and publicly. Terry knew before he passed away that there would be an annual run in his name and helped to establish the values and vision that the Terry Fox Foundation adheres to and proudly shares today. Betty Fox, with Rolly Fox close by her side, stepped up to speak for Terry when he no longer could accepting a role in the development of the Terry Fox Run which would later evolve into The Terry Fox Foundation.
Betty was involved in all aspects of The Terry Fox Foundation, including commercialization issues that related to the use of Terry’s name and image for fundraising purposes. The founding directors and members of the Foundation also believed it was important to tell the Terry Fox story of how one average Canadian could make a difference through hard work and a never give up attitude.
It is estimated that Betty spoke to more than 400,000 school children alone during the over 25 years of touring the country, leaving each and every child with the inspirational story of the Marathon of Hope. It was always Betty’s wish to see Terry’s siblings, nieces and nephews involved in the identities that bear the Terry Fox name not simply because they share the same lineage but because they believe in and are committed to Terry’s vision and values. The direct descendants of Betty and Rolly Fox fulfill a governance role with the Terry Fox Foundation as members with defined responsibilities and roles. They are also charged with being the lead on initiatives that wish to honour Terry’s legacy or communicate his powerful and moving story.
Reflecting on Terry’s words ‘I am only one member of the Marathon of Hope, I am equal with all of you” the Fox family acknowledges we are a large, extended and growing family. Terry’s legacy is vibrant today because there are “Terry Foxers” from coast to coast, south to north, responsible for continuing the Marathon of Hope. Our collective promise to Terry is we will not rest until his dream, which has become our own, is realized.