The Day I Met Terry Fox

It was just before I turned 9.

My mom drove me and my two little sisters out to a barren shoulder on the highway to wait. It was probably somewhere around Burlington, where we lived at the time.

We sat in the car and watched a few other vehicles show up. My sisters and I were probably fidgety and uncooperative.

We watched him come from a long way down the highway. There were police cars, I think. And a white van led the way. It seemed that he took forever to reach us with his steady, limping gait. But I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

When he arrived he sat down in the sliding side doorway of the van and had some water, then caught his breath.

I walked up to him and he looked at me and said something. I was so bashful, all I could do was lift up my hand and offer him my week’s allowance. It was maybe a dollar or two. He took if from me and said thank-you.

And then it struck me: he was honestly grateful. My measly two bucks was actually of significance to this man and his cause. My little contribution mattered. I was gratified. And probably honoured, if I even knew what honour was at that age.

He reached out to shake my hand. I held his hand. It was sweaty and warm. His grasp was firm, gracious. Then I looked at him and noticed how sweaty he was. He looked tired, there was a sense of exhaustion about him. But his blue eyes shone, glowed even. I didn’t want to let go of his hand.

It was a quick stop. And then he was gone, headed down the highway. And I felt this yearning sense of wanting to spend more time with him.

That was the day I met Terry Fox.

Visit the Terry Fox Foundation.

2 thoughts on “The Day I Met Terry Fox

  1. I turned 21 while travelling around Europe when Terry Fox was on most of his run, got back to Canada after he’d had to stop and about three months before he died. He will always be one of the greatest Canadians, a true hero in a country that doesn’t like heroes. I still have the Vancouver Sun newspaper from the day he passed away.

  2. I envy your opportunity to meet Terry Fox. He was gracious, courageous, and tough; all qualities I admire.

    ESPN is producing a series of documentaries to celebrate its 20th anniversary. They’ve asked a variety of sports figures to nominate their own heroes as subjects for these documentaries.

    NBA superstar (and Victoria native) Steve Nash picked Terry Fox. I’m looking forward to seeing that one.

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