Terry Fox's 1979 letter to Adidas for running shoes
Last week was the 33rd anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, when he first began his long cross-Canada, daily marathon trek to raise awareness and funding for cancer research.
He never finished due to a terminal recurrence of cancer in his lungs, but his selfless act inspired countless individuals, raised hundreds of millions, and his life story will now even be turned into a Hollywood movie.
Part of that story includes the role Adidas played; a letter that Fox sent to the sportswear company requesting for an in-kind donation of 26 pairs of running shoes reveals more of his persona and intentions.
Here’s Terry Fox’s letter to Adidas, from the Toronto Star:
November 3, 1979
My name is Terry Fox, I am 21 years old, and I am an amputee. I lost my right leg above the knee two and a half years ago due to cancer.
The night before my amputation, a former basketball coach brought me a magazine with an article on an amputee who ran in the New York Marathon in it. It was then when I decided to meet this new challenge head on and not only overcome my disability, but conquer it in such a way that I could never look back and say it disabled me. But I soon realized that that would only be half my quest, for as I went through the 16 months of the physically and emotionally draining ordeal of chemotherapy, I was rudely awakened by the feelings that surrounded and coursed throughout the cancer clinic. There were the faces with the brave smiles, and the ones who had given up smiling. There were the feelings of hopeful denial, and the feelings of despair. My quest would not be a selfish one. I could not leave knowing these faces and feelings would still exist, even though I would be set free from mine. Somewhere the hurting must stop… and I was determined to take myself to the limit for this cause.
I feel now is the time to make good my promise. I have been training for over 8 months, running on an artificial leg. Starting with ½ mile, I have now worked up to 15 miles a day, adding a half mile weekly.
At first the going was extremely difficult, as I was facing chronic ailments foreign to runners with two legs, in addition to the common physical strains felt by all dedicated athletes. But these problems are now behind me as I have either out-persisted or learned to deal with them. I feel strong not only physically, but more important, emotionally. Soon I will he adding one full mile each week, and coupled with the weight training I have been doing three times a week, by April next year I will be ready to achieve something that for me was once only a distant dream reserved for the world of miracles; to run across Canada to raise money for the fight against cancer.
The running I can do, even if I have to crawl every last mile. But there are some barriers I cannot overcome alone. I need your help, your sponsorship, to help provide the means to sustain myself and two others that have consented to put aside those 5 months to be my companions and aides. We will be needing transportation to Newfoundland, a camper-type vehicle to meet us there, and money for food, gas, and other necessities. My three years in university have quite aptly drained me financially, and just the thought that I will require about 26 pairs of running shoes for myself and running companion makes my now dwindling account crawl even deeper into it’s hole.
If you could just sponsor us for the footwear, it would be more than appreciated and would take a great financial burden off our backs. If you would also like to provide your sponsorship for any other expenditures for the trip, you are most welcome to, as we need as much help as we can get.
Please, consider my plea carefully and notify me if you come to any decisions, good or bad. My number is listed below and I can be reached or a message can be left any time during the day.
We need your help. The people in cancer clinics all over the world need people who believe in miracles. I’m not a dreamer, and I’m not saying that this will initiate the definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.
Written by Kenneth Chan, the Deputy Editor at Vancity Buzz. Follow Kenneth on Twitter at @kjmagine.
Image credits: Government of Canada