Courage – I

Terry Fox was very competitive and played soccer, rugby and baseball growing up.  His favorite sport, however, was basketball even though he was only five feet tall.  Terry went from playing one minute in 8th grade to being a regular bench player in 9th grade, to being a starter in the 10th grade.  He was the high school athlete of the year as a senior.

At age 19, Terry discovered he had a form of cancer in the leg.  His right leg was amputated, and he was only given a 50% chance of living.  Prior to his amputation, Terry learned about another amputee who had completed the New York City Marathon.  This was a turning point in his life.

After competing in a couple of long-distance runs, Terry set a goal of a cross-country run of Canada going from East to West.  He set a goal of raising $1 million for cancer research.  His passion for funding cancer research came when he discovered that the cancer advance that saved his life was not known two years before it was available to him.

The run was very difficult at first.  The weather was terrible.  Drivers would often force him off the road.  Few people made donations.

The CEO of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts had a son die of cancer and was inspired by Terry.  He committed $2/mile to Terry and got close to 1,000 other corporations make like donations.

The run took a toll on Terry.  He experienced all of the typical runner’s maladies.  After running 3,339 miles, Terry had to give up when he discovered the cancer had spread to his lungs.  A week after the run ended, Canadian TV ran a telethon to raise money.  Donations continued long after the run was over.  Eventually, Terry’s run generated the equivalent of $62 million.

Terry passed away at the age of 22.  The Terry Fox Run was established as a fundraising event in Terry’s honor in 1991.  Over 1,000,000 people in 60 countries regularly participate.  Over $750 million has been raised for cancer research.  The cure rate for Terry’s type of cancer is now over 80%.

We often think of courage as a physical act, but courage can take many forms.  At its essence, courage is challenging yourself to go beyond your comfort zone.  Courage is basically pursuing your dreams even when you may doubt yourself.  Courage is fueled by determination, faith in yourself, and an unwillingness to let others discourage you.  Courage is also standing up for your values and beliefs when they may be under attack from others.  Finally, courage is never forsaking your conscience.

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“The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity.  Even a dead fish can go with the flow.” – Jim Hightower (Columnist, activist)

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