40 letters for 40 years: Calgarian’s book commemorates Terry Fox’s marathon

It’s been 40 years since Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope and one Calgarian has come up with the idea to commemorate the anniversary of the famous Canadian’s achievement.

James McCreath says letters have been collected from 40 Canadians and put into a book called, “Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters,” all of which highlight how Fox’s story continues to inspire Canadians.

“I had the idea about 18 months ago and I knew the 40th anniversary of the run was coming up, so why not get 40 Canadians together to write letters? Not only did we get celebrities, I wanted to get a number of Terry Foxers … people who were touched by him and have helped the foundation,” he said.

McCreath told the Calgary Eyeopener that it’s full of household names like Hayley Wickenheiser and Wayne Gretzky, but also includes stories from Canadians who have survived cancer.

“Let’s get people in the book whose names you wouldn’t recognize, but maybe whose stories are even more powerful than the celebrity stories. And so that’s what the book is all about,” he said.

After coming up with the idea, the Calgarian reached out to Terry’s brother, Darrell Fox — who become the editor of the book —  where they talked about all the amazing stories related to Terry.

“I thought it was a particularly special time to do something unique to once again amplify his message and his story of courage and perseverance,” he said.

“One of the remarkable elements of the book is there’s so many great people that are revered … and you often wonder who did the idols idolize? And in fact, if you’re Canadian and you’re famous, almost everyone idolizes Terry Fox.” 

McCreath says one of the letters he thinks readers will be particularly excited for is hockey hero Sidney Crosby.

Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters, shows how Terry Fox continues to inspire Canadians. (Penguin Random House)

“When he got back to us, he acknowledged that he, in fact, has a photo of Terry Fox in the front hallway of his house in Pittsburgh. Here’s likely the greatest modern day hockey player and he reveres Terry, just like you and I do.” 

Another moving story is from Olympic runner Malindi Elmore who knows the grind that it takes to do a marathon as well as the weeks and months needed to recover.

“She talks about the endurance aspect of what Terry did and it staggers the mind. He ran a marathon a day for 143 consecutive days and Malindi notes that not even the best distance runners in the world run 300 kilometres a week, which is what Terry did.”

James McCreath at the Terry Fox Memorial in Thunder Bay. McCreath says Fox is one of his heroes. (Amber McCreath)

McCreath says the Olympian ends the letter with “running has never been more beautiful” — a line that specifically touched him.

“That’s the beauty of the book, is there’s 40 letters you can likely read in one sitting or you can read one a day for 40 days and you’ll find something in there that provides, you know, some light or some hope to you,” he said.

  • Listen to the James McCreath’s full interview with the Calgary Eyeopener below
40 letters for 40 years of Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope. 7:00

McCreath says he hopes people spread word of the book since all author proceeds go to the Terry Fox Foundation.

“If you turn on the news, it’s maybe not necessarily always positive, but you reflect on what Terry did and what he means and 40 years on, you know, the story hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, it’s likely more powerful,” he said.

If you want to get you and your loved ones a copy, the Calgary launch for the book is at Owl’s Nest Books Sunday afternoon from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., which is also when this year’s virtual Terry Fox Run takes place. 

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