TIMES of OMAN BY HI/FAISAL MOHAMMED NAIM | JANUARY 31, 2014
|Photo - Hi
Giving hope to millions around the world, the famous ‘Terry Fox Run’ was organised on Tuesday by The American International School Muscat. Meet Judith Fox Alder, International Director, Terry Fox Foundation, and sister of the legendary athlete.
Life is not about regretting losses and failures, it is about celebrating the little achievements and keeping up the hope. That’s what Terry Fox stood for, and that’s the message we try to spread throughout the world, says Judith Fox Alder, International Director of the Terry Fox Foundation, and sister of Terry Fox (the legendary Canadian Athlete, who donated his life to promote cancer awareness and research) who visited Muscat this week to be part of the fifth ‘Annual Terry Fox Run’, at TAISM (The American International School Muscat).
As the International Director at the Terry Fox Foundation, Judith has been meeting people from around the world, hearing their stories and how Terry’s story inspired them to fight, give back and help others. Every day, she is witness to the people’s humanity as they band together as families, friends, neighbours, communities and entire countries to commemorate the mission of her brother. This is where the hope lies - in people, because together “everything” is possible. Her brother’s vision, principles and the impact his life has had on others inspires Judith to continue Terry’s dream of one day finding a cure for cancer, she asserts.
Terry would’ve been 46 today. Perhaps he’d be married, like his brothers Fred and Darrell and his sister, Judith. Perhaps his children would join the portraits of the nine grandchildren the Foxes proudly display on a living room wall. Instead, he is forever young, running westward into the wind. Many of the mementoes of the journey are in storage now, but the Foxes keep Terry’s diary of the run at home.
Judith who has been revealing interesting aspects of Terry and the mission he embarked on to the media all over the world, shared with Hi Weekly some interesting aspects about Terry, the foundation, its achievements, her own life and more. Excerpts:
What change has the Terry Fox Foundation been able to affect in the world?
The run that started in 1981 as a local event has today grown international with hundreds of thousands of people participating in it for a noble cause, promoting cancer awareness and research, and is now the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research, with over C$600 million having been raised in Terry’s name. It has given cancer patients, the world over, a ray of hope, and power to believe in miracles. Today, the foundation has its presence in over 30 countries, where it aids the cancer research programmes, by the funds raised through the race held in that particular country. The newer cancer treatments reduce suffering and prolong life and bring us closer to an eventual cure for cancer. Even the smallest of progress that is made towards the elimination of the disease is a big step towards positive change.
How has the response been for the run in Oman?
Simply amazing! In its 5th straight year in the country, with over 900 participants, the response has been awesome. With the ‘Hairy for Terry’ head shaving event, Terry Fox run, and sale of Terry Fox bandanas, the TAISM community has been able to raise RO 3,969 in donations within four days. And what makes it even more special is that all of it has been donated by school children. I was moved to see the kids donating their allowances to keep Terry’s dream alive, specially the little first graders donating their baizas. I’m so excited and honoured to be here. It’s awe-inspiring to see how far Terry’s legacy has come.
How would the collected funds be utilised?
The entire fund stays in Oman, and would go to the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital’s childhood leukemia research project. We have specifically decided to fund the said project because due to some reasons, despite following all the western protocols in the treatment of leukemia, its prevalence is still high in Oman. The prognosis is not as efficient as in the west, and also the survival rate is much lower to what’s there in the west - more than 85%.
What does the name Terry Fox symbolise?
We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. He endured sixteen months of chemotherapy and ended his treatment with new purpose: he felt he owed his survival to medical advances and wished to live his life in a way that would help others find courage. His courage, determination, humanitarianism, and selflessness have been an inspiration to millions of people. One person can make a significant difference in the world, that’s what Terry Fox symbolises.
And how has your life been, being a Fox, Terry’s sister?
Terry was seven years older than me, but he always acted like a parent. He was always very possessive of me. He was extremely competitive, and hated to lose so much that he would continue at any activity until he succeeded. And that’s what he always tried to inculcate in me. I owe it all to him. He has been a source of inspiration for me in every walk of life. Not only me, Terry changed the lives of all Canadians, and the world.
|Ordinary, yet determined
How was Terry as a kid?
Terry was just an ordinary kid, but he was very determined and always set goals for himself. His motto was, “keep trying until you get it right.” He wasn’t a great athlete or a great student, but he worked hard at everything he did.
For example, when he was in grade school, Terry wanted to play basketball but was told he was too short and not talented enough. But because he was so passionate and positive, the coach allowed him on the team. He was obedient — that wanting-to-please part of his personality — but Terry gave all of himself in everything he tried, and he expected the same from others. He was funny, too.
He loved to joke around, wrestle, play hide-and seek. There was this silliness, all the time. He was an incredible person. He knew how to be serious and get the job done, but also had a lot of fun.
Are other members of your family involved in this work?
My brother, Darrell, started work at the Terry Fox Foundation 15 years ago, having finally come to terms with Terry’s death. Today, he is the national director of an organisation that has raised a staggering $360 million worldwide for cancer research. Darrell missed his Grade 12 graduation, leaving school a month early to hook up with the run in New Brunswick.
I was 16 when Terry lost his battle with cancer in June of 1981. In April, 1980, with one leg having been amputated, he left St. John’s, Newfoundland on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The spread of his cancer forced him to end his quest in Thunder Bay, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres. At that time, I don’t think any of us realised that Terry’s quest would capture the hearts of the world. But thanks to my mom’s (Betty Fox died on June 17 in Vancouver) perseverance and dedication to continue Terry’s dream, the run continues till today.
What are your fondest memories of Terry?
He had an incredible sense of humour. He would sit on the couch, put his arm around you, reach right around and grab your nose and not let go – just silly and fun. Another thing that I remember, he wasn’t vain, he didn’t care about how he was dressed.
We went to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver in 1980 when Terry finished [a day’s] run. It was quite a posh place and Terry wore just jeans and a ripped sweatshirt. He said ‘Mum, I don’t care what I look like’. People were in three-piece suits, tuxes and evening gowns and recognising him, it was funny and embarrassing at the same time.
How did your parents react when Terry said he was going to try and run across Canada?
Mom was angry, and then it came to a point when my dad said ‘when is he going?’ because he knew that when Terry set his mind to something, there was no fighting him. There certainly was a lot of arguments and shouting, trying to change his mind but then we got behind him as a family.
(With inputs from www.terryfox.org, www.tcs.on.ca, www.aboldvision.ca)