South Shore students hear about Terry Fox’s legacy from the one who knew him best

by Brittany Wentzell

  • <p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTOS</p><p>Fred Fox, Terry Fox&#8217;s older brother, spoke to students at schools across the South Shore on September 20. Fox thanked the students for their efforts in Terry Fox Runs and told personal stories about his little brother.</p>
  • <p>Students at Bayview Community School listening to Fred Fox speak.</p>
  • <p>Grade 3 students at Bayview sang a song about Terry Fox at the event on September 20.</p>
  • <p>Art featuring Terry Fox at Bayview Community School.</p>

Fred Fox spent September 20 touring South Shore schools and bringing with him his younger brother Terry's message of hope and determination.

Fox's first stop was at Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay. Fox said this was his first time visiting the South Shore, but that the Maritimes are special to him when he travels the country speaking on Terry Fox's legacy.

"Whenever I'm on the east coast it's nice because I meet people who were nine or 10 years old or they were grandparents at the time when Terry ran and they share stories ... they're heartfelt stories and a lot of them talk about how Terry impacted them," said Fox.

It's been 37 years since Terry passed away after it was discovered that cancer had spread to his lungs during his Marathon of Hope. Although students and most of their parents, were not alive to see Terry's run across Canada, every year, schools across the nation take part in the Terry Fox Run and learn about his legacy.

"It's a great legacy that (schools) are continuing and involved with and we're thanking them, but one of the other messages I have for the kids is about Terry and what he was like at their age and working hard and being very determined and ... the values that Terry believed in," said Fox.

Fox says meeting him helps make the story more real for the students.

"Hopefully they'll make that personal connection and know that he's not just someone they read about in a book."

Bayview students watched a presentation on Terry that included some of Fox's personal memories and photos of his brother and his thoughts on Terry's will to accomplish his Canada wide tour. While telling his brother's story, some staffers became visibly emotional.

Fox spoke on Terry's determination, first to join the basketball team at their Port Coquitlam high school. Although he was only five feet tall, at the time it was something he not only did but excelled at after intense training, making it to the varsity team at Fraser University.

Terry was studying kinesiology with the hopes of becoming a gym teacher when it was discovered he had bone cancer and would have to have his leg amputated above the knee.

Despite his obstacles, Terry went on to become an accomplished runner and wheelchair basketball player.

In 1980 he began the Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research, starting in April in St. John's, Newfoundland and making it as far as Thunder Bay, Ontario.

He was initially frustrated with he lack of response he received, but by the time he reached Ontario, the nation was following along, often drawing thousands to watch and donate to the cause. Even after he had to stop, Terry thought he'd eventually pick his marathon back up.

Fox also joined his little brother for part of his run in the Toronto area and later spent a few days running alongside his wife and Terry in Northern Ontario.

"That was a pretty amazing time," said Fox.

Terry raised over $1.7 million for cancer research and the first Terry Fox Run was held in 1981. Since then over $750 million has been raised in Terry's name.

Terry is often regarded as a Canadian hero, something Fred said his brother wouldn't have agreed with.

"Terry never wanted to be famous or get rich," said Fox.

Fred told the students that after Terry was diagnosed with cancer, Terry told him it was "just another challenge I have to overcome" and quickly turned his attention to wanting to raise money to help others in the same situation as him. Fox emphasized that Terry was just a regular kid growing up but one who was incredibly hard working and determined.

Fox ended his talk at Bayview by quoting his mother, who also often attended schools and spoke about her son.

"Just like Terry, always set goals and never, ever give up on your dreams."

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