20 Sep Four bronze statues commemorate Terry Fox’s epic run

Four bronze statues of Terry Fox – built to last a thousand years, says sculptor Douglas Coupland – were unveiled Friday on the Terry Fox Plaza at BC Place as a lasting bronze memorial to a genuine Canadian hero.

Together they depict the iconic hopping and shuffling gait Fox adopted as he attempted to run across Canada in 1980 on an artificial leg to raise money for cancer research. A reoccurrence of his own cancer, which had cost him his right leg when he was 18, forced him to quit just east of Thunder Bay, Ont., five months after he began his run in St. John’s, N.L.

He died in 1981 at 22 but his Marathon of Hope had raised millions of dollars to fight cancer and had captured the imagination of Canadians from coast to coast. The Terry Fox Foundation has since raised over half a billion dollars for cancer research.

Premier Christy Clark, who along with members of Fox’s family including his father Rolly, unveiled the bronze statues, said had Fox lived today his chances of surviving cancer would have been four times greater – a state of affairs due in part to the money raised in his name.

“He challenged us to be better, reach higher and to imagine things we could do that we never thought were possible,” said Clark.

Coupland, who designed the custom bronze statues, became friends with the Fox family while writing a book about the runner, called simply Terry.

Rolly Fox paid tribute to the work his wife Betty, who died earlier this year, had gone over the years in raising money for the foundation.

“Betty said there will come a time when those of us who were Marathon of Hope witnesses will not be able to share our personal accounts of how Terry moved us and why. This is why Doug’s work has meaning and value as it will help to spread Terry’s dream when the Marathon of Hope generation is no longer here and able,” he said.

“We do not forget the image of Terry running. It is forever ingrained in you, it leaves you shaken and humbled. I’m very proud of my son, how he matured though his journey with cancer, how he learned to appreciate life, how he committed his life to helping others.

“The Marathon of Hope raised $24 million for cancer research in 1980 yet Terry was penniless, yet he was rich with the knowledge that he’d tried his very best, that he had run until he could run no more.”

The first of the large bronze statues is a life-size sculpture, but each increases in size until the final one is a double life-size statue. It depicts Fox giving his familiar wave to Canadians who, touched by his bravery, would line his route as he passed through their communities.

The bronze statues face Stanley Park, which is where Fox was aiming to end his run. They replace an earlier memorial arch taken down to upgrade the plaza as part of the revitalization of BC Place.

To create the bronze sculptures, Coupland said a video of Fox running was used in order to break down his motion into four components.

The ceremony at the intersection of Robson and Beatty streets drew a couple of hundred spectators and 200 schoolchildren who ran into the plaza wearing Terry Fox T-shirts to mark the 31st national Terry Fox Run, which takes place Sunday in communities across Canada.

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