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Inspired by Hope
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By Marilynn Vanderstaay

Photo Courtesy Gail Harvey / The Terry Fox Foundation

“When I watched Terry Fox, cancer research crusader, former athlete and 23-year-old amputee and ongoing cancer patient. make his way past me and through the crowd of 10,000 cheering him on at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto during his Marathon of Hope on July 11, 1980, I was so inspired by the young Canadian’s courage and determination I could only hope at some point I might be involved with what he was doing,” says London’s Mayor Ed Holder.

Photo Courtesy Gail Harvey / The Terry Fox Foundation

Sadly, on June 28, 1981, after running 5,373 in 143 days, Terry had to terminate his run as the debilitating affects of his cancer retuned. Nevertheless, by February 1, 1981, Terry's dream of raising $1 for every Canadian was realized when the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope fund totaled $24.17 million.

For the next 30 years, Holder was involved in developing his career as a London businessman, networker extraordinaire, a Christian family man working with his entrepreneur wife Judite and a connector, making things happen in London and beyond.

Ultimately turning his attention to politics, when in Ottawa as the Conservative representative for London West, Holder met like-minded acquaintances Alberta MP Jim Prentice, Minister Parks Canada, and Newfoundlander Herb Davis, Policy Advisor, Government. of Canada.

Soon after meeting, Prentice received a letter from Donna Bell, a Newfoundlander and a pen pal friend of Terry’s. She wrote, “If there is a statue of her friend installed at Thunder Bay where Terry passed and the Marathon of Hope ended, can’t there be, at least a plaque, if not a statue of Terry in St. John’s, where he began by putting the toe of his prosthetic leg in the water at St John’s Harbour?”

“We agreed”, said Holder, “and the adventure began.”

The three MPs brought their strengths to the project to install the Terry Fox Mile 0 Memorial Site. As Minister of Parks Canada Prentice worked with the federal government and the city of St. John’s Port Authority to secure the land.

Holder worked his networks to raise the finances and other requirements. They raised an initial grant of $50.000 from the City of St. John’s and a subsequent $250.000 from the Canadian government.

Davis, who has an endless list of contacts, brought his database of Newfoundland contacts to the mission. Together they commissioned bronze sculptor Luben Boykov to create the statue of Terry dipping the toe of his prosthetic leg into the St. John’s harbour. (Luben’s story itself is also one of perseverance. At the time he was contacted about the statue, he was new Canadian who had defected from Bulgaria to Canada via Gander in 1990 and had rapidly made his mark on the Canadian art scene.)

On April 12, 2012, 32 years to the day of when Terry began his Marathon of Hope, the magnificent, larger than life, statue of Terry was unveiled at St. John’s harbour. The statue features a semi-circle of interpretive panels and landscaping just feet away from where Terry took the first steps of his historic run.

Photo Courtesy Terry Fox Run London

But for Holder, his commitment to the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope did not end there...

Ed Holder, our mayor of the City of London, continues to promote the Marathon of Hope. In 2020, on the suggestion of a city employee and despite the COVID, our city commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope with the installation of 38 signs along the route Terry took in London.

Back in 1980, when Terry and his entourage entered London from the eastern city limits, Terry ran along Dundas to Richmond streets and turned northward. He completed that day’s marathon in Victoria Park, where he was welcomed by one of the largest crowds of his entire journey.

This year on July 17 Mayor Holder finally installed a plaque commemorating the 40th anniversary of Terry’s arrival in London at a formal unveiling, one year late due to the covid pandemic.

The plaque is located at the south side of the Victoria Park bandshell. “Terry’s legacy continues to connect us, and the street signage and plaque are a small gesture of appreciation for Terry, his legacy, his foundation and all the volunteers and participants of the Terry Fox Run”, said the Mayor at the sign unveiling. “When Londoners pass by the signs installed across Terry’s London route as well as the plaque, they are reminded of Terry’s greatness.”

Pete Ferguson of Terry Fox Run London added, “Since Terry’s historic run through London 41 years ago, almost $10 million has been raised city-wide in London for cancer research through the annual Terry Fox Runs held in his memory.”

Terry Fox Marathon of Hope Run London 2021

Once again, this year due to constraints of the pandemic, the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope 2021 will be virtual, united in spirit, not in person. Participants can participate wherever they are: around the neighborhood, the backyard, down the street, or around the block.

Londoners are encouraged to register their participation and support for the run that will take place on Sunday, September 21.

Click HERE to:
  • Register as a runner (there is no entry fee)
  • Sponsor a team
  • Read inspiring stories of hope
  • Make a donation
  • Download a pledge sheet

For more information email

About the author; Marilynn Vanderstaay
Marilynn is a deep-rooted Christian whose life as a Believer since she was just three is intertwined with everything she puts her hands to professionally and personally.

A community investment specialist, she is a journalist and columnist who writes for community, local and national publications celebrating life and successes, yet when necessary, exposing the not so nice. Her columns and e-zines are read and enjoyed.

She is a soft skills trainer/inspirational speaker. A fabric artisan whose works hang in a gallery in Old Montreal and are published in a coffee table book.

And she is an impresario who organizes faith, friends, food, and fun events. And yes, she is a five-time life threatening cancer overcomer, healed by Jesus to declare the illustrious acts of the Lord. Psalm 118:17