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.