The late Terry Fox took his final steps in his unfinished Marathon of Hope in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
We visited the Terry Fox monument on our first day in Thunder Bay on Monday. It honours his memory near the spot where he took his last step.
Terry Fox is a famous Canadian athlete whose right leg was amputated when was diagnosed in his late teens in 1977 with osteosarcoma. But he continued to run with an artificial leg.
He began his Marathon of Hope in 1980, determined to jog across Canada and raise $24 million for cancer research. He logged 5,373 km over 143 days before he was forced to stop from pain and because his cancer had spread to his lungs. He died nine months later at age 22.
Nearly four decades after his death, schools across Canada take part in the annual Terry Fox Run, where students raise hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in support of cancer research.
T took part in his first run last Fall and I remember smiling at the pictures of our roadrunner with a big smile.
Heroes are so important to have in life, especially for children to look up to, to be inspired by, and to draw hope from.
I think back to my childhood heroes – the Power Rangers and the X-Men were just a few who occupied my imagination.
Looking back, I always felt the X-Men resonated with me, because I drew a parallel between the persecution of mutants with being a gay teen.
And I often think: Who will be the heroes for T?
Diversity and representation are so important for children to see themselves reflected in the books they read, the shows and movies they watch and the music they listen to.
I think the Power Rangers appealed to me, because it celebrated diversity and featured Asian and Black protagonists. The 2017 Power Rangers reboot movie featured an autistic Blue Ranger.
When I survey popular culture, where are the characters with the invisible disability who are kicking ass and not those who are just inserted into the narrative as a token gesture?
Real-life heroes make big impacts too.
As an adult, I’m more inspired by real life heroes, those who’ve done something with their lives, those who’ve overcome adversity, and those who spread light to others in the world.
When we first learned about T’s prognosis of at-risk fetal alcohol syndrome, I looked for the success stories, the living examples of kids, teens and adults with FASD who are kicking butt. The reality is there are very few stories online – although these individuals, like motivational speaker Myles Himmelreich, are indeed inspiring.
One of the wonderful saving graces I found was FASD Caregivers Success, a private Facebook group with 4,000+ members that include parents and caregivers.
It was very refreshing to hear the raw stories and day-to-day experiences of people in the trenches, who share their testimonies with such truth, rawness, heart and often times, humour too.
These people are my heroes today. They give me inspiration and hope.
Every child needs and deserves a hero.
And I hope to do my part to help T find the heroes in his life – real and imaginary – who will help him dig deep into his soul and push through the hardships and the challenges.
One day during the lockdown, T said out of nowhere and completely unprompted, “Papa, you’re my hero.”
So for now, I am happy to be one of T’s heroes.
And you know what, he’s one of my heroes too.
This past Monday, as the hubby and I were enjoying the views of Lake Superior from atop the Terry Fox Monument, T initiated play with an 8-year-old.
For 20 minutes, they played chase and hide and go seek with each other and with total abandon.
I enjoyed watching them laugh and smile. And looking up at Terry Fox, I think he would approve of this child’s play too.