Terry Fox's family marks 35th anniversary with visit to Outer Cove

Terry Fox's family marks 35th anniversary with visit to Outer Cove

A ceremony was held at Outer Cove Beach on Sunday to mark the 35th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope.

Over three decades ago, in 1980, Fox began his famous marathon with a stop at Outer Cove Beach to retrieve ocean water.

Fox's intention was to pour water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific once he completed his run across the country.

Bill Strong of St. John's remembers that day well. He brought Fox, as well as Fox's friend Doug Aylward, down to the beach.

At the time, Strong was a field supervisor with the Newfoundland division of the Canadian Cancer Society.

"We didn't know very much about Terry and what he was about when he came," said Strong.

"I was struck by how very much alone they were. They were fortunate to get a van from Ford to come and we actually got to go to Signal Hill and watch the van come in on the container ship."

"We put the signage on it ourselves. So it was very much a quiet project," he said.

Strong said when he first met Fox, he wasn't convinced the amputee could run across the country. In fact, Strong only saw Fox run once in the five days he spent in St. John's.

But by the time the runner reached western Newfoundland, momentum for the cause had built — and, with it, Strong's faith.

"I remember a speech he gave in St. George's in particular and he spoke with such conviction that I turned to Doug and I said, 'He's going to make it or he is going to die doing it.'"

Fox died the following year, one month before his 23rd birthday, in a British Columbia hospital.

Mystery Solved

Darrell Fox, Terry's younger brother, joined Strong at Outer Cove Beach on Sunday to retrieve yet another jug of ocean water.

Fox told CBC News that Strong recently helped the Fox family solve a mystery.

Fox said the family had always assumed the water, which stayed in the van throughout his brother's Marathon of Hope, was taken from Cape Spear.

Fox said his mother held onto the container of water for years because she knew how significant its meaning was to her late son.

That container is now on display at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa. Darrell Fox says the family plans to one day pour it into the ocean — but not yet.

"When we finally find the answers to cancer is when we'll place it in the Pacific Ocean. That was Terry's goal and we're prepared to finish it. Complete the Marathon of Hope," said Fox.