Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brotherly love

Fred Fox shares memories of iconic sibling as annual cancer run approaches

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It's easy to be related to a Canadian icon when you just think of him as your little brother.

Fred Fox, who will be forever known as Terry's older brother, was in Winnipeg this week to promote the 32nd edition of the Terry Fox Run on Sunday. He spoke with the Free Press about the run, his brother and how his mother thought he was crazy to run.

How big has the Terry Fox Run become since its beginnings in 1981?

"Millions participate in the Terry Fox Run. There are about 800 Terry Fox Runs in communities big and small across Canada, in 8,500 schools and more than 30 countries around the world. Even though it's been 32 years, people are still passionate about what Terry started in 1980.

"In 1981, just a handful of countries participated. If the run was held outside of Canada, it was Canadian embassies or armed forces bases (that held them); maybe 100 or 200 schools participated. More than $600 million has been raised since 1980 (for cancer research). It's not a number we throw out there because it sounds good. I can honestly tell you that money has been put to good use right across Canada. The researchers are doing fantastic work with the money that's been raised in Terry's name."


What's it like being the brother of a Canadian icon?

"It's pretty amazing. I think our family, I don't mind saying, we're pretty humble, as Terry was. I have worked with guys for four or five years who didn't know who I was. It's just the way we are. We don't go out telling everybody. It's one of those things we've very proud of."

 

What was Terry like as a kid?

"He was just like any other Canadian kid who grew up in the '60s and '70s and probably even today. We challenged each other all the time. We beat each other up, wrestled with our dad, went to the local football field and kicked field goals. Terry was a little different; he challenged himself even harder. He was more determined than the rest of us.

"Even though I'm 14 months older than Terry, he often beat me in a lot of things we did together, only because he was more determined and focused."

 

After Terry decided to run the Marathon of Hope, did anybody in the family tell him he was crazy?

"A couple members sure did. He had to learn how to walk and run again. He trained very, very hard. We thought he was training for the Vancouver marathon that would take place in May 1980.

"Terry went to Prince George to run a race, a 17-mile race. He was the only amputee. He ran that race, finished dead last, but he accomplished his goal of finishing that race. That was Labour Day in 1979 and he came home and told my mom and dad about (the Marathon of Hope).

"My mom said, 'Why would you run across Canada? It's crazy. Why don't you run from the Alberta-B.C. border and finish in Stanley Park; you can raise money that way.' Terry's reply was, 'Mom, not only people in B.C. get cancer. I have to start in St. John's, Newfoundland."

 

What was it like for the Fox family while he was running the Marathon of Hope?

"No one knew what he was doing as he made his way through Newfoundland into the Maritimes. Every day it got to be a little bit more. Once he hit that Ontario border, that's where the momentum built, and there were hundreds of people lining the roads as he headed into different communities. In Toronto, there were 10,000 people at city hall. The media started to come on board. I think there was a question, 'What is this kid doing; why should we pay attention?' But they saw that determination and focus and that commitment that he was making every day.

"When we found out the cancer had returned, we were devastated, devastated for Terry, because it was his goal, his dream to get across the country.

"He had rough days all the way along; the 143 days that he ran, there were good days, bad days, days where he was in pain. Only one thing would stop him and that was the return of cancer. He had to come back home (for treatment) and the family was very supportive. Along with Terry, we believed that he would one day get back out there and finish it."

 

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 15, 2012 A4

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