In plain grey sweat shorts, a Marathon of Hope T-shirt and what became trademark Adidas runners, the image of Terry Fox is iconic in the transition from a no-logo mentality to major charity fundraising.
His legacy, the Terry Fox Foundation, has raised $700 million for cancer research, and as a result many of the people who died from cancer in the early 1980s would survive if they were diagnosed today, noted Rob Reid, the Oak Bay resident who was behind the installation of the Terry Fox statue at Mile Zero in Beacon Hill Park.
During the Marathon of Hope in 1980 Fox accepted Adidas runners and the philanthropic support of Jim Pattison for the Econoline van and accompanying motorhome, Reid noted. But there was a notable absence of major corporate brands, and it’s with that spirit that a board of directors with Reid, Fox’s brother Darrel, and others, are pushing to build the Terry Fox Centre.
The centre will house about 1,000 artifacts from Fox’s life, his time on the Marathon of Hope and the refurbished 1980 Ford Econoline van that Ford helped reproduce in 2008 (and which Reid helped drive back to B.C.).
“Terry, really, he was the first one to use running to raise money, while now there are walks and runs all over with corporate support,” Reid said. “And he raised millions. One of the greatest examples of hope is Terry Fox’s run. The goal of this centre is to keep his messaging and values alive.”
Of course, the team organizing the Terry Fox Centre is seeking partnerships to make this happen. But they’re doing it in a way that would make Terry Fox proud.
Ideally, the Terry Fox Centre would be located in downtown Vancouver where it would be accessible for Canadians and tourists alike. The artifacts are currently in storage but made up a travelling exhibit that last toured to Prince George.
“So we haven’t knocked on doors, we’ve organized this on a shoestring budget so far,” Reid said. “It’d be nice to have more support but we don’t go looking for it. We aren’t marketing it as the ‘Add Sponsor Here’ Terry Fox Centre.”
The team had hoped to have a permanent location in place by the end of 2020 and are now hoping the delays caused by COVID-19 will only push them back about a year.
“Before she died, Betty [Terry’s mom] was worried about the artifacts and noted the need for a place to preserve them,” said Reid.
He is also challenging Canadians on the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope.
“I’m challenging people to do 143 days of exercise, for mental health relief,” Reid said. “Either a walk, bike, or run, in the leadup to the Terry Fox Run in September. For every day you complete it, put a loonie in a shoebox and then donate it to the Terry Fox Foundation.