By Bob McRae
Though retired, like many people, keeping active with meaningful volunteer activities brings me considerable fulfillment. Sometimes there are things important enough to one’s beliefs, principles that they require more effort to get anywhere.
Most major organizations with a run or event respect and honour Terry Fox by planning their event on a day different than the Terry Fox Run held on the second Sunday after Labour Day each year. Perhaps most incredibly, one that does not is our great Canadian Armed Forces.
It is inconceivable and shameful to me, and I am sure it is to many Canadians as well as current and veteran armed forces personnel, that there should be any need to make a case for this.
Terry Fox, arguably for some, is the most recognized name and greatest inspirational figure and hero to Canadians. Terry has been a source of inspiration and motivation to millions, and that continues. In September 1981, shortly after his death due to the return of cancer, the Government of Canada through the Ministry of Fitness and Amateur Sport initiated the first Terry Fox Run in memory of Terry in support of cancer research. For anyone old enough, they will never forget that event, Terry and his amazing story and courage.
Never before or since has a nation responded with such an outpouring of love, admiration and generosity. Over 300,000 Canadians participated and over $3-million was raised. Ever since, in September, on the second Sunday after Labour Day in Canada, Terry Fox Runs are held across Canada.
Since that first Terry Fox Run in 1981 there have been 35 other annual events. Terry and his story continue to capture the hearts of people in Canada and around the world. He is also celebrated every year by many Canadian schools, which hold their own Terry Fox Runs in the month of September, and other organizations, including our own Canadian Armed Forces.
Is Terry Fox important to Canada and Canadians?
In a 1999 Dominion Institute survey he was voted Canada’s Greatest Canadian. In a 2004 CBC television program, The Greatest Canadian, he placed second behind Tommy Douglas. Terry also won many prestigious awards before his death and posthumously. He received the Order of Canada and the Lou Marsh Trophy, the Canadian Press voted him 1980 Canadian of the Year, and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame inducted him, to name a few. Streets, schools, shopping centres, trails, mountain tops, parks and more have been named after him. Monuments honour Terry in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in front of Parliament Hill, outside Thunder Bay and elsewhere in Canada. Every prime minister has spoken to Canadians of Terry’s courage and inspiration and the importance of paying tribute to him each September.
Thanks in large part to Terry Fox and the Terry Fox Foundation tremendous progress has been made against cancer. Over $650-million has been raised since 1981 and people diagnosed with cancer today often survive and live much longer. This progress continues; cancer may one day be beaten and no more Terry Fox or similar events would be needed. However, one thing is for sure: the legend of Terry Fox will continue and will be told by parents, grandparents, educators and countless others to inspire and motivate children and many others, forevermore.
The Canadian Armed Forces do an admirable job supporting and raising funds for the Terry Fox Foundation and the Canada Army Run is a wonderful event for a great cause. However, the Army Run should honour and respect Terry Fox by scheduling its event on a different day than the Terry Fox Run. He deserves this honour and respect!
Like Remembrance Day on November 11, let us not allow this to diminish, ever. The active support of current and retired armed forces personnel is important and would be appreciated.