Terry Fox Day

Terry Fox Day is celebrated as a Civic Holiday in Manitoba, Canada, on the first Monday in August annually. It honors Terry Fox, a Canadian athlete who, after having one leg amputated due to cancer, ran a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. For many, he is a national hero who has had parks, roads, buildings, and statues named in his honor all across the country.

A Short Biography of Terry Fox

Terry Fox was born on July 28, 1958, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Throughout his youth, he showed perseverance as an athlete, playing rugby, soccer, and baseball as a child. On November 12, 1976, Terry was driving home when he crashed into the back of a pickup truck. Although the truck was profoundly damaged, Terry walked away from the accident with nothing more than a sore knee. The following month, he felt pain in his leg again but chose to ignore it until the end of the basketball season. Over the next couple of months, the pain in his leg intensified until he felt he had to go to the hospital in 1977. This is when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma—a form of cancer that often begins near a person’s knees. The doctors told him that his leg had to be amputated, that he had to undergo chemotherapy, and that his chances of survival were only about 50%, even with recent medical advances.

Three weeks after his leg was amputated, Terry began walking again with the aid of a prosthetic leg. Over the next few months, he improved dramatically and attributed his speedy recovery to medical advances. After learning about Dick Traum—the first amputee to participate in and complete the New York Marathon—Terry Fox decided to go on a 14-month training regimen to compete in a marathon himself.

On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox filled two large bottles with ocean water from the Atlantic Ocean and began the marathon. He intended to keep one of those bottles as a souvenir and empty the other bottle into the Pacific Ocean when he concluded his trek. Despite the physical problems he encountered on his run, including an inflamed knee, dizzy spells, and an inflamed knee, he continued his trek across Canada. Unfortunately, he had to end his run after 143 days and 3,339 miles (5,373 km), and the following day, Fox held a press conference in which he announced that his cancer had returned and had spread to his lungs.

Over the course of his run, Terry Fox had raised approximately $1.7 million for cancer research and raised the public’s awareness of cancer and its consequences. Other events were held that raised even more money for cancer research. In September of 1980, Terry would be named to the Order of the Dogwood—one of the province’s highest awards. Although Fox continued with his treatments, his cancer continued to spread, and he was admitted to the Royal Columbian Hospital in June of 1981 with pneumonia. On June 28, 1981, he fell into a coma and died—just a month before his twenty-third birthday. In 2015, Manitoba changed Civic Holiday to Terry Fox Day—a day that’s observed on the first Monday in August every year.

Observing Terry Fox Day

Terry Fox Day can be observed by donating money to cancer research, remembering the life and achievements of Terry Fox, and spreading the word about the holiday. People can also use the hashtag #TerryFoxDay on their social media accounts.

Where is it celebrated?
Canada (Common local holidays) - Manitoba
When is it?
This year (2024)
August 5 Monday
Next year (2025)
August 4 Monday
Last year (2023)
August 7 Monday