By Janet Love Morrison
"Youre going to miss all the grad parties."
Those are the words I said to Darrell Fox in May of 1980. Darrell was travelling back east to meet his older brother Terry, who was running across the nation to raise money for cancer research.
We could not believe Darrell was going to miss all our graduation celebrations. None of us, including Terry, had any inclination of the legacy he was about to embrace. Today the Terry Fox Run is held in 52 countries and is the single largest fund-raiser for cancer research in the world.
Terry was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) in his right leg in 1977. The night before his surgery our physical education teacher, Terry Flemming, gave Terry a magazine about an amputee who had run the New York Marathon. This was the impetus for Terrys Marathon of Hope. His objective was to raise awareness among Canadians of the critical need to find a cure for cancer. He ran an average of 47 kilometres every day for 143 days. He was forced to end his run in Thunder Bay, Ontario, due to the return of cancer. He died June 28, 1981.
In May of 2000 I saw Darrell at our high school reunion in Port Coquitlam. Darrell is now the national director of the Terry Fox Foundation and the name of our school has been changed to Terry Fox Senior Secondary. In our conversation I mentioned to Darrell that I was off to India to teach at an international school.
"Youre going to do the run, arent you?" he asked.
"Yes, of course I am," I said.
How I was going to pull it together in a community where I did not know a single soul was going through my mind, but I did not mention my challenges to Darrell.
When I arrived in Kodaikanal, in India, I contacted the Terry Fox Foundation in Toronto. Shortly after I received participation certificates, posters, and video tapes all the tools I needed to promote the run. I contacted the Rotary Club of Kodaikanal and introduced myself to Mr. Sam Babu, International Director, and Mrs. Rani Rajendran, President. Sam and Rani became my local contacts. They spoke with school principals, organized our presentations, translated, and committed themselves to the project.
There were many moments when I wondered what on earth had compelled me to take on something so huge in a new community, but each time I walked into a room filled with children my energy was completely restored.
The first school Sam and I visited was Bhavans Gandhi Vidyasaram. I heard Terrys voice as I entered the main hall the students were watching the video. Approximately 200 pairs of brown eyes stared at me as I entered the room and sat down.