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Terry Fox launched the Marathon of Hope in St. John's, above, on April 12, 1980. ((CBC))

The family of Terry Fox marked on Monday the 30th anniversary of the start of his famous run with a new program dedicated to cancer research in Atlantic Canada.

"Thirty years ago today, and almost to the hour, Terry was here," his mother, Betty Fox, told a news conference held metres from where Fox dipped his artificial leg into the harbour of St. John's as he began his run on April 12, 1980.

Fox, who had intended to run across the country, was forced to end his journey in Ontario when lung cancer made it impossible for him to continue.

P.O.V.:

Marathon of Hope: Your memories of Terry Fox

His Marathon of Hope lasted 143 days and captivated the imagination of the country. Fox died in June 1981.

Betty Fox told supporters that her son's efforts continue to inspire millions of people.

"He was here to fulfil a dream, to set an example, to prove that one person can make a difference."

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Betty Fox speaks in St. John's Monday, 30 years to the day after Terry Fox launched his run. ((CBC))

The Fox family announced that a new research program through the Terry Fox Research Institute will specialize in Atlantic Canadian research.

The program becomes the sixth so-called node in a countrywide network of applied research. It involves six institutions in the four Atlantic provinces.

Dr. Victor Ling, scientific director of the Terry Fox Research Institute, said the nodes would pool their research together to strengthen Canada's fight against cancer. Atlantic Canada has a higher rate of colorectal and lung cancers, with comparatively lower odds of survival.

Ling said the new node will try to turn those numbers around.

"This is something that we're going to look into seriously, and try and see if we can, over time, help the region to put innovations and new ideas into the system in order to improve the outcome for patients," Ling said.  

The Terry Fox Foundation, which raises money for the institute, spends about $20 million each year on peer-reviewed cancer research. It also pays for scholarships and awards.

Millions of people participate every year in Terry Fox fundraising runs, which are now organized in more than 60 countries.

"His legacy grows. It gets bigger every year," Fred Fox, his brother, said Monday.