Terry Fox Park is a small park located on the corner of Mitton Street and London Road in Sarnia. It is a beautiful floral area with a gazebo dedicated to the late Canadian hero Terry Fox.
Terry was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1958 and raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, by his parents, Roland and Betty Fox. Terry had been involved in many sports including soccer, rugby, baseball, and basketball and was told by his physical education teacher that he should try long-distance running.
Although Terry refused, he had felt respected for the suggestion.
In 1976, when Terry was 18 years old, he was involved in a car accident. The accident had caused him pain in right knee, but he refused to go to the hospital. By 1977, the pain became excruciating to the point where he was forced to go to the hospital.
The diagnosis was osteosarcoma, a form of cancer that often starts in the knee area. The devastating news resulted in him having his right leg amputated, chemotherapy, and being given a 50% chance of survival. After being overwhelmed by the sight of suffering cancer patients, Terry created the Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research.
His inspiration for the run was Dick Traum, the first amputee to complete the New York City Marathon. Terry had trained for 14 months for his mission to run across Canada. His journey began on April 12, 1980 in St John’s, Newfoundland. By June 11, he had made it to Toronto, where 11,000 people were there to meet him in Nathan Phillips Square. On September 1, Terry was forced to stop just outside of Thunder Bay due to intense coughing and chest pain. He had completed 5,373 kilometres in 143 days and had raised $1.7 million.
On June 28, 1981, Terry passed away in New Westminster, British Columbia after his condition worsened. The government of Canada ordered all flags to fly half mast in his honour.
The Terry Fox Run was founded by Isadore Sharp, also the founder of the Four Seasons hotels. Sharp had lost his own son due to cancer and had offered Terry and his companions a room at his hotels. He has challenged 999 business to raise money for cancer research because he had donated $10,000 himself. He had created the Terry Fox Run as a non-competitive. The first Terry Fox Run was completed on September 13, 1981 and over 300,000 people had participated, raising $3.5 million. To this day, over $650 million had been raised in Terry’s honour for cancer research.
Every year the Terry Fox Run will continue to be held, raising money for cancer research in Terry Fox’s honour.