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Reliving Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope: Day 26

This is how it all began. On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began an epic cross-country journey to raise money for cancer research. CBC Radio and Television followed Terry's Marathon of Hope from the beginning. To celebrate this historic event, we present these reports as they were first aired.

Terry Fox's arrival in Nova Scotia is unpleasant: he's sick from the ferry ride from Newfoundland, he's been arguing with his van driver and childhood friend Doug Alward, and he's disappointed with the turnout for his arrival in Sydney. When the CBC asks to film him running on the highway, there's a near-fatal accident. A transport truck smashes into the slow-moving CBC vehicle, nearly taking Terry's life. This clip is an excerpt from the stock footage shot by that CBC crew just before the accident.

Although none of the accident is seen in the clip, it does present an excellent snapshot of a typical day on the road for Terry: passing cars and trucks, country music playing on the local radio station, the occasional reporter tagging along. But this stretch of road came very close to infamy: had Terry been in front of the camera vehicle instead of beside it, the Marathon of Hope would have ended in tragedy less than a month after it began.
• Here's what Terry wrote in his diary for May 7, 1980, as printed in Leslie Scrivener's book Terry Fox: His Story:
"The CBC wanted to film me running, so we decided that I would go out and run again. The CBC was filming me from the side, right on the Trans-Canada Highway. They were only going about five miles an hour when I heard this huge freight truck come barrelling up and not slowing down. Smack.  At fifty miles per hour it hit the CBC vehicle, forcing it off the road, over a ditch and into the woods. One of the CBC men fell out the back onto the highway and rolled into the ditch. I thought he was dead. He was conscious but couldn't move. The other two guys were hurt, but not seriously. The CBC truck was totalled and the camera equipment ruined. It was terrible. If I had been five yards further ahead, I would have been killed."

• The CBC crew involved in the crash were cameraman Gary Embret, soundman Gordie MacNeil and John Lewandowski, who was driving the Chevy Suburban. Embret was leaning out the window when they were hit by a fish truck; the camera was ripped from his hands and he received facial cuts from the viewfinder. MacNeil, who was in the back of the truck by the spare tire, was thrown onto the road and suffered a compression fracture in his back that kept him off work for six months.

• Terry and driver Doug Alward went to visit the men in hospital. "It was a great relief to find out they were going to be okay," he said. "I couldn't run any more after that. I was so shaken up."
• As a result of the crash, Terry Fox only managed to run five kilometres on his first day in Nova Scotia. However, he ran 45 kilometres the next day, and told reporters how pleased he felt to have finished running across Newfoundland, the first province on his journey.

• George Thorne, organizer of the events in North Sydney, told CBC Archives in 2005 that when Terry arrived in North Sydney, he was met by students from North Sydney's Thompson High School and Memorial High School Sydney Mines. They ran with him to the mayor's office, where he was presented with a cheque. After Terry's accident, he made an unscheduled visit to Sydney and stayed the night. Thorne says Terry returned to the accident scene the next day to continue his run.

Also on May 7:
1906: Ontario Hydro is created as a Crown corporation.
1920: The first exhibition of the Group of Seven goes on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Despite favourable reviews, only three of the 100-plus works are purchased.
1945: Germany surrenders unconditionally to end the Second World War in Europe.  The surrender is signed by German envoys in a schoolhouse at Rheims, France.
Medium: Television
Program: Here Today
Broadcast Date: May 7, 1980
Guest: Terry Fox
Duration: 2:30

Last updated: September 16, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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