More than 30 years ago, a young man named Terry Fox inspired his home nation of Canada by completing a long-distance run across the country.
It was not an easy feat for anyone, especially for Fox, who had lost his leg to cancer. After running for 143 days and raising millions of dollars for research, Fox was forced to quit his run when the cancer returned and spread to his lungs. But by that point, he and his cause were legendary.
Now Ben Murray, a Toronto native and Davidson College sophomore, hopes to raise funds in Fox's name, and is organizing the area's first-ever Terry Fox Run, set to take place in Davidson on March 17.
Growing up in Canada, Murray recalls running a Terry Fox Run nearly every year. "At a young age, I was really touched by Terry's story," said Murray. "The unbelievable willpower he had, running on one leg, and his perseverance and self-sacrifice were inspiring."
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Fox had hoped to raise $1 million dollars for cancer research, but as more and more people heard his story, he set his mind on a loftier goal - raising a dollar for every Canadian. After 3,339 miles, he asked to be taken to the hospital, where doctors discovered his cancer had returned. He died nine months later, but not before inspiring thousands of his countrymen and taking a permanent place in their hearts. To date, more than $550 million has been raised in Fox's name.
When Murray came to the Davidson for college, he was surprised to learn that many Americans had not heard of his hero. There are only a handful of Terry Fox Runs in the United States, as opposed to Canada and other countries, where there are hundreds. The run is the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research.
Murray began thinking about organizing a run himself. "I knew it would be a challenge, since so many people haven't heard Terry's story, but I thought it allowed for a great educational opportunity. My goal is to bring the community onto campus, raise money for cancer research and inspire people with Terry's story."
Murray has been canvassing neighborhoods in town, going door-to-door and asking for donations. In addition, Murray has spoken at schools, presented at running clubs and worked with local Canadian organizations in hopes of raising both money and awareness.
"People were willing to talk to me - no one slammed a door in my face. I think this community is a great place to hold an event like this."