If you're not from Canada, the name Terry Fox might not mean anything to you.
But for millions of Canadians, this Sunday will mark a very special day: the 35th annual Terry Fox run will take place all over Canada. As always, participants will be asked to donate a minimum of one dollar, fulfilling Fox's dream that one dollar will be raised from every Canadian to go towards cancer research.
Fox's story is pretty incredible.
In March of 1977, Fox was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his right leg. To save his life, he had the leg amputated six inches above his knee. As the story goes, Fox was reading about an amputee runner the night before his own surgery, which sparked his desire to run himself.
Two years later, he began training for his Marathon of Hope.
Fox's dream was to run and simultaneously raise money for cancer research. According to his website, he ran over 3,107 miles in his training alone.
"I'm not a dreamer, and I'm not saying this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to."
Those were the words Terry wrote to the Canadian Cancer Society before running. His now-famous dipping of the artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean marked the beginning of his journey. He went on to run 26 miles a day, covering 3,339 miles in 143 days — essentially running a full marathon every single day.
143 days and 3,339 miles later, Terry had to stop for a frightening reason...
His cancer had spread to his lungs. "I'm gonna do my very best. I'll fight. I promise I won't give up."
In response, Canada stepped up. CTV Network helped organize a telethon that raised $10 million dollars, and suddenly Fox's dream of helping fund cancer research was becoming a reality.
In October of 1980, Fox received British Columbia's highest civilian award.
They gave him The Order of the Dogwood. Not long after, the American Cancer Society gave him The Sword Of Hope award, also their highest honor.
Then, in February of 1981, Fox's primary goal came to fruition.
By the time the Canadian population reached 24.1 million people, Fox had raised $24.17 million. Four months later, shortly before his 23rd birthday, Fox lost his battle to cancer.
Since then, Fox has become a legend in Canada.
He was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, he has had statues erected in his honor, he has had mountaintops named after him, and a yearly run in his name continues to raise money for cancer research. In May of 2014, it was announced that more than $650 million had been raised towards cancer research in Fox's name. You can donate here.