Elementary students walk in memory of Terry Fox

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST – "I'm gonna do my very best. I'll fight. I promise I won't give up."


Taylor Strickland (right) and Charlotte Babineau (centre) were two of the more than 500 students at Spring Street Academy Elementary school who took part in the Terry Fox Walk on Thursday.

AMHERST – "I'm gonna do my very best. I'll fight. I promise I won't give up."

Terry Fox spoke those words after the cancer in his right leg spread to his lungs, forcing him to stop his Marathon of Hope outside Thunder Bay, Ontario on Sept. 1, 1980.

Less than one year later Terry Fox died at the age of 22, never returning to run his marathon.

Yesterday, students at Spring Street Academy learned about Terry Fox, and learned lessons in determination, perseverance, endurance and death before they walked in his honour.

Daren White, a teacher at Spring Street who has fought his own battles with cancer, led the lesson for 500 students in the school gymnasium. He spoke to the younger grades in the morning and the older grades in the afternoon.

During the morning session one young student asked several questions about the whereabouts of Terry Fox’s prosthetic leg.

“He wanted to know if Terry was buried with a prosthetic leg because he wanted to make sure he had his leg with him in heaven,” said White. “It’s funny how kids think about things like that.”

White assured the youngster that Fox had two prosthetic legs, one he was buried with, and one on display in a museum.

During both sessions White talked about Terry’s lifelong determination to succeed.

“Before he lost his leg he tried out for his basketball team and his coach said, ‘sorry, you’re not good enough, you cannot make this team.’”

But Terry didn’t quit.

“He kept practicing and practicing and guess what happened? The next year he made the team,” said White. “In his fourth year he was the captain. He was the best player on the team. He never quit. Whenever he faced a challenge he worked harder.”

One day he came home from school, told his mom his right knee felt sore, and eventually went to get it checked by a doctor.

“The doctor told him he has a thing called cancer,” said White to the students. “The doctor didn’t have the medicine to fix it and they had to remove his leg. They cut it off.”

White then told the kids that Terry decided to raise money so doctors could find a medicine to fix people with cancer.

“He told his mom he was going to raise money and give it to the doctors so they can make a potion to make people better,” said White.

His mom thought it was a great idea and asked if he was going to have a yard sale or a bake sale.

“He said, ‘I’m going to run across Canada…I’m going to start in Newfoundland and run through all the provinces,’”

“His mom said, ‘Are you nuts?’”

White told the students that Fox’s goal was to raise one dollar from every Canadian, and how the money in his name has helped more people survive cancer.

“We’re here today to remember him,” said White. “Every year we go on a walk in his memory and when you’re walking I want you to remember who Terry Fox was.”

More than $500 million has been raised in Fox’s name since he first dipped his foot in the Atlantic Ocean on April 12, 1980, before setting out on his trek across Canada.

Rain in the morning force students to walk in the gymnasium but the students in the afternoon were able to walk outside.



Organizations: Street Academy

Geographic location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada Newfoundland Atlantic Ocean

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