Three Lessons of Courage by Terry Fox
By Robert (Bob) W. Jones

Terry Fox passed away at the age of 22 on June 28, 1981, but not before he ran into the hearts of millions of Canadians like me.

I’ve run a marathon – I know how it feels to push yourself beyond what you feel is possible. Terry ran close to 42km everyday for 143 days, on one good leg and one artificial one made of fiberglass and steel.

After 18 months and running over 5,000 kilometres (3,107 miles) to prepare, Terry started his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980…with very little fanfare.

He ran on against 40 mile-an-hour winds;
he ran on through 38C days with high humidity;
he ran on even when he was run off the road;
he ran through the blisters and the cramps and the constant pain;
he ran with a grimace that betrayed the intensity required to achieve his dream of crossing Canada and raising a $1 from ever Canadian for cancer research;
he ran on with an optimism that was fueled by tenacity and a competitive drive;
he ran on until he couldn’t run anymore.

On September 1st, after 5,373 kilometres, Terry was forced to stop running outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs. An entire nation was stunned and saddened.

At his passing, the Prime Minister of Canada summed up the feelings of Canadians in the House of Commons, “It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his and in the mourning of his death. Terry gave far more to his country than his country could give to him.”

His epitaph reads, “He made his too short life into a marathon of hope and courage.”

An 83-kilometre (52 mile) section of the Trans-Canada Highway, between Thunder Bay and Nipigon, is renamed the “Terry Fox Courage Highway” in Terry’s honour.

Everybody needs a highway of courage to travel on.

3 Lessons About Courage

1. Faith will enable you to run a marathon of hope on a highway of courage.

Terry said, “I really believe that I’m not going to lose even if I die, because it’s supposed to be the Pearly Gates I am going through. I can’t lose out. The situation I’m in right now, I could be down, I could be depressed, I could be out of it. I could be feeling sorry for myself…but I’ve got to have hope.”

2. Your dreams will give you courage to try.

“How many people do something they really believe in? I just wish people would realize anything is possible if you try.”

Olympic champion, Kristina Groves, credits Terry’s influence for her successes. “He didn’t stop when people didn’t care, even when people tried to run him off the road. I never strayed in my belief that I could make it to the Olympics. He still inspires me.”

3. Courage is a by-product of doing what makes you happy.

“Through my whole run I thought about the meaning of life. Its not wealth – I don’t have any wealth – and its not fame – I’m famous but it hasn’t changed my life. On my run when I got emotional it was because I was happy.”

Leslie Scrivener, his biographer, says it best, “His impact is incalculable, until you start to calculate it: 32 streets, one mountain, 1,164 cancer research grants and awards, $451,737,662 invested in cancer research.

All of Canada carries the imprint of the graceful young man with the awkward amputee’s gait. He became a part of us, part of our bedrock. He is in our geography, in awards that honor outstanding young Canadians, as a role model for athletes — especially the unsung grinders — and in cancer research funded as it had never been before.”

It’s easy to see Terry as a hero because everyone can see something of themselves in his struggle. Its inspiring to think that our own wills could triumph over adversity like he had.
His heroism is within our reach and any of us could aspire to the attitude of excellence he displayed.

For more stories of courage and hope, click here for Bob’s newest book!

About this Contributor:

Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.
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