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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Anniversary (04/11/05)

TITLE: Legacy of Hope
By Helga Doermer


April 12, 2005 dawns dark and dismal with continuous rain. I pour myself a cup of coffee and sit down at the kitchen table reluctant to wake up. The front page of the local newspaper stares up at me. A picture of a young man clad in shorts and t-shirt walking a highway and squinting in the summer sun catches my attention. The caption reads Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope begins – 25 years ago today. For once the paper carries a good news story, one to celebrate.

It is the 25th anniversary of the day Terry began his solo marathon from the side of the Atlantic Ocean. He began his trek across Canada with the goal of reaching the Pacific, all with the intent of fulfilling his dream of raising funds for cancer research to lessen the suffering of cancer patients. Though an unexpected spread of his cancer kept him from reaching the west coast, he did cross two thirds of Canada before he had to abandon his plan. In the meantime, not only did he raise millions of dollars, he did something even more amazing. He captured the imagination of an entire nation, inspiring them with his vision. It is a dream that has lived on for twenty-five years as each September Canadians gather and continue the fund-raising marathon in his name.

I realize as I read through the Free Press article on this grey April morning that I have never been as conscious of his story as I am today. A few things have made the difference. First, I learned that he was born here in Winnipeg just a few years later than me. He could have been a neighbour. Second, having recently worked on palliative care I have come face to face with the devastating nature of cancer. Working as a midwife to the dying and as a support to their families, the pain and suffering caused by cancer is undeniable. And last, it surprised me to realize that he would have been about the age of my eldest son when he began his marathon. He would have been barely out of high school when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. It is remarkable that he did not allow the distressing diagnosis and the loss of his leg to crush him. It is amazing that he believed that he could make a difference to people living with cancer, and that his loss became his inspiration for his marathon of hope.

On this the 25th anniversary of the day Terry Fox began his solo marathon, as the dismal rain continues, I read the story of a boy who has almost become a legend. Here is an individual who has become a larger than life media figure because he dared to live what he believed. For many Canadians he has been an inspiration as he rose above diversity and lived with remarkable courage until his early death. He seeded a dream that became his legacy of hope, and it lives on.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynne Gaunt04/19/05
Your tribute to this courageous young man is well done. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this man's life and legacy.
Sally Hanan04/23/05
No wonder this man's legacy has reached so many 25 years on. This was a very well written article.