Seed of inspiration
Port aux Basques special stop in Marathon of Hope
The generosity of people along the southwest coast is credited for being Terry Fox’s inspiration for wanting to raise $1 for every Canadian during his epic Marathon of Hope.
Before reaching the area, some say Mr. Fox’s goal was to raise $1 million. But after raising nearly $10,000 from residents of the southwest coast, who numbered about the same, his dream grew.
That’s one of the reasons Donna Ball of Paradise thinks Port aux Basques and the province should do more to recognize their links to the historically significant run.
A letter from Ms. Ball was read our at a recent Port aux Basques Town Council meeting. The letter, which was originally sent to the provincial department of tourism, and copied to the town, other municipalities and the Fox Foundation, suggested more needs to be done to honour Mr. Fox’s legacy in Newfoundland.
Specific to Port aux Basques, Ms. Ball suggested a garden-like site be developed to bring more attention to the area’s role in the Marathon of Hope. She added next year would be an ideal time to unveil such a site, as it is both come home year and the 30th anniversary of the marathon.
Councillors generally agreed the idea to do something to commemorate this historic connection was a good idea. The council decided to write a letter of support for Ms. Ball’s request to the province. HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE The Government of Canada named Mr. Fox a person of historical significance at a ceremony in St. John’s in September.
The event included the unveiling of a new plaque for Fox acknowledging his official status.
Heather Strong, representing the Terry Fox Foundation in Newfoundland and Labrador, said “Cancer took Terry far too soon, but not before his place in Canadian history and our hearts had been firmly cemented.”
Terry now stands as one of only 31 people in this province, according to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, to have been officially acknowledged as a person of historical significance on the national stage.
His new commemorative plaque will be placed near the existing Fox memorial in St. John’s.
It is one of three placed across Canada. The others are located in Port Coquitlam, B.C., where he was raised, and just outside Thunder Bay, Ontario, where his marathon run was forced to an end.
Fred Fox recalled his brother’s run across Newfoundland. He spoke on his own family’s attempts to retrace the route at St. John’s years later and experiencing, “the cold of that time of year here in Newfoundland” and the difficulty of running the “ very hilly No. 1 highway.
“ 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 that cancer can have.”
Terry was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma at the age of 18.
The cancer-stricken Fox began his Marathon of Hope, by dipping his artificial foot in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s Apr. 12,1980.
His cancer treatment to that time had included the amputation of his right leg six inches above the knee.
After his gesture at the water’s edge, he started to run. He wanted to run clear across the country.
Along the way, he met now-St. John’s city Coun. Shannie Duff. Speaking at the St. John’s assembly, Mrs. Duff said she had “actually worried about him,” crediting her concern for the young man with the “curly head of hair” to a mother’s instincts.
“I don’t think any of us understood what Terry would do for Canada.”
Terry’s goal of $1 for cancer research for every person in Canada was exceeded before he was forced to end the run Sept. 1, 1980.
Students continue to be major supporters the Terry Fox Foundation, and through it, the Terry Fox Research Institute. In 2008, three million students participated in National School Run Day, raising $12 million for cancer research in Canada.
The following is the wording on the commemorative plaque in St. John’s: