‘Determination and hard work go a long way’

Langley students learn the message of Terry Fox

Fred Fox spoke to students at Gordon Greenwood Elementary on Friday, one of four Langley schools he visited that day on behalf of the Terry Fox Foundation.

From an early age, Terry Fox showed a determination to finish what he started.

He was four or five years old and the family was living in Winnipeg.

The family home had shag carpeting — which is less than ideal for building blocks — but Fox was determined to build a pyramid.

The boys’ mother, Betty, watched from the kitchen as the youngster continued trying to finish his project.

“Not once did Terry think about walking away or giving up; he stuck with it until he got that very last block on top of the pyramid,” recalled Fred Fox, Terry’s older brother.

“That was an early indication of the determination of never giving up that Terry had.”

Another story involved when Terry was in the eighth grade and his basketball coach suggested perhaps he try another sport as he would most likely be a benchwarmer.

Terry took that challenge, and two years later, when he was in Grade 10, he was a starting guard and team captain.

Fox said that his parents taught the four children to “finish what you start and Terry took that to heart.”

Fox was speaking to the students at Gordon Greenwood Elementary on Friday (Sept. 20), one of four Langley schools he visited that day.

He had just returned from two weeks of touring the country, speaking at other schools.

It was part of Fox’s work with the Terry Fox Foundation, visiting schools across the country to share the message of his younger brother.

Terry Fox was 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated above the knee.

While in hospital, Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.

He began his Marathon of Hope, starting in St. John’s Newfoundland and made his way west across the country. He was running close to 42 kilometres a day — which is the equivalent of a marathon — but after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres, Terry was forced to stop running outside of Thunder Bay, Ont. because cancer had appeared in his lungs. Ten months later, he passed away at the age of 22.

“He was just an ordinary kid, not always the biggest, not always the strongest, not always the smartest kid in class,” Fox said.

“With a little bit of determination and hard work, he was able to meet so many of the goals he had at a young age.

“And that transferred over when he had the Marathon of Hope as well.

“Terry’s message of hope, of making a difference is not only here in Canada, but around the world,” he added.

“We are proud to be able to do this as part of our family and share Terry’s story with others, especially those who weren’t alive when Terry ran.”

The annual Terry Fox Run is now held in more than 30 countries and more than $600 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research through the Terry Fox Foundation.

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