Sometimes you come across a story that is so amazing you can’t quite believe it’s true – and there are few more inspiring than the tale of Terry Fox.
In 1980, after being diagnosed with cancer, the Canadian philanthropist decided to run across the whole of his native land in aid of cancer research.
The run gathered great support, but unfortunately his cancer forced him to stop part way through the run.
However, his legacy lives on through the Terry Fox Run, and right now Abu Dhabi is preparing to hold the 22nd edition on Friday April 19.
Being staged along the Corniche, the run takes place across a 5km and 10km route.
We spoke to Terry’s brother, Fred Fox, about why the event is open to all and what we can learn from Terry’s story.
Why did you decide to set up the Terry Fox Run?
In 1980, when Terry was forced to end his Marathon of Hope, there was an amazing swell of support given to him from people across Canada.
Isadore Sharp, chairman of the Four Seasons Hotels, was one of Terry’s supporters during the Marathon of Hope and before Terry passed away, he committed to Terry that he and others would create an annual event (The Terry Fox Run) to continue Terry’s dream and legacy.
One year after Terry was forced to stop running the Marathon of Hope, and two and a half months after he passed away, the very first Terry Fox Runs were held in Canada and in locations around the world on September 13 1981.
What can Terry’s story teach us?
Terry wanted to teach us that “anything is possible if you try”. Terry was a hard worker, he was very determined. When Terry was faced with the biggest challenge of his life, he decided to turn that into something that would allow him to make a difference for others with cancer. Terry said: “It took cancer to realise that being self-centred is not the way to live. The answer is to try and help others.”
Did you enjoy taking part in Terry Fox Run when you visited Abu Dhabi in 2015?
It was an amazing experience and the Corniche is such a beautiful location for a run. It was special to see so many people from different parts of the world, all wearing Terry Fox Run T-shirts. That was fantastic. Terry couldn’t have ever imagined that he would inspire so many people, so many years later, to do what they can to continue his dream.
The community really embraced the event, with several thousand people participating and it was a huge success.
Is the run suitable for all ages and abilities?
Yes, the Terry Fox Run is suitable for everyone. The event might be called a run, but you don’t have to run to participate. You can walk, push a buggy, or in many locations even ride a bike.
If people don’t want to run can they still support the event and the cause?
Yes, for sure, they can make a donation online or sponsor someone who is participating and raising money. Or you can just come along to the event and support those who are taking part.
You hold 9,000 runs across the world. Does that take a lot of organising and hard work from your team?
You bet it does, but we rely on volunteer support. We are very grassroots and those who are organising the events in communities around schools around the world are all volunteers. We have staff in offices across Canada that work to provide all the support and materials people need to organise, participate and donate to Terry’s dream.
Did you like the city of Abu Dhabi?
I liked Abu Dhabi very much. I was in Dubai a few months earlier and that was the first time I had ever been outside of North America. My visit to Abu Dhabi was the second. We visited the Grand Mosque and I found it easy to walk around and check things out in the city.
WHAT IS IT...
A 5km or 10km along the Corniche in honour of Terry Fox
To support a fantastic cause while also keeping fit
Free to register (donations welcome). Fri Apr 19, 9am onwards. A’l Bahar, Corniche. www.terryfox.org.