Terry Fox display unveiled at Manitoba Legislature in time for August holiday
Province names August's lone holiday after Winnipeg-born Marathon of Hope runner
The Manitoba government has unveiled a display honouring Terry Fox, in advance of the first Terry Fox Day to be observed in the province.
The public holiday known as Civic Holiday is now named after the Winnipeg-born hero, who embarked on his cross-country Marathon of Hope 35 years ago.
Health Minister Sharon Blady said the Terry Fox Legacy Act, the legislation establishing the holiday's new name, was unanimously approved by MLAs last month.
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"We decided to work on the idea of recognizing Terry Fox, and we happen to have a wonderful day in the summer that falls just a little bit after Terry's birthday — for those of you that don't know that if Terry was still with us, he would've turned 57 this week," she said Friday.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to, in a way, kind of celebrate his birth, celebrate his accomplishments and the fact that he's a Winnipeg boy. He's a Transcona boy, born at St. Boniface Hospital and … he's somebody whose memory continues to inspire folks around the world."
He ran from St. John's, N.L., to just outside Thunder Bay, Ont., where the spread of his cancer forced him to stop in September of that year.
He died on June 28, 1981, at age 22, having become the youngest person ever to be awarded the Order of Canada.
"Terry's interactions and surroundings during his early years played a role in developing the personality and values that we hold in such high regard 35 years later," Rolly Fox, Terry's father, said in the news release.
"We believe the Terry Fox Legacy Act, while recognizing Terry's birthplace, will also assist our collective efforts to further Terry's dream of eradicating the suffering that cancer causes. We are truly grateful."
Fox's legacy lives on, in part, through the Terry Fox Run, which takes place in 25 countries around the world each year to raise money for cancer research.
Manitobans urged to take part in run
The provincial government says more than $700 million has been raised in his name and as a result, cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment have greatly improved over the years.
In addition to naming the Civic Holiday after Fox, the province has also established the name Terry Fox Run Day for the second Sunday after Labour Day.
Blady said naming the mid-September weekend after the annual run will "remind all Manitobans that they can help fulfil Terry's legacy by signing up for the annual Terry Fox Run."
"We're using today, and every year from this point on, this is going to be our kick-off for the run," Blady said.
"This is going to be that day where I would like Manitobans to sit there and [ask,] 'What are you doing on the Terry Fox long?' Enjoy some time with your family, celebrate, and if you're somebody whose life has been touched by cancer, think about the legacy that Terry left us and use this as a starting point for what you're going to do for this year's run."
James Follett, co-chair of the Winnipeg Terry Fox Run, said it's "fantastic and amazing" that Manitoba will be observing Terry Fox Day on Monday.
Follett said he and other run organizers are raising awareness of cancer and trying to get many people out to support this year's run.
One goal that organizers are aiming for is to raise $1 for every Canadian, in the hopes of raising a total of $35 million, he added.
The cause hits very close to home for Follett, who has loved ones fighting cancer.
"I was overseas on deployment and I had some news that my father came down with blood and bone cancer and my sister-in-law was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer," he said.
"Being part of this run — this is going to be my third year now as a co-chair — I was doing it with a fire in my belly. Now that's even grown more," he added.
"I want to succeed and I want us to raise the most money as we can because it's so personal for everyone."