Terry Fox Day a good time to check out Citizen’s Hall of Fame

by Peter Squire

Winnipeg summers are fabulous, but they end far too quickly for most. There are so many things to do, like escaping to a cottage, or attending one of the many Manitoba festivals held both inside and outside the city. Pursuing outdoor activities is inevitable if the usually reliable summer weather holds true throughout the month. August in some ways becomes more precious and meaningful than July, knowing that those warm summer days and evenings are fleeting. Take advantage of them while they are still here to enjoy. 

Even the City of Winnipeg recognizes how important it is for you to savour August without being
distracted by a flurry of election campaign signs. Yes, as per the well laid out Election 2018 information on winnipeg.ca, in accordance with Section 62 of the Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law, campaign signs cannot be erected prior to September 1, 2018. They must be removed no later than October 31, 2018, a week after the civic election on October 24, 2018.

More immediate and germane to taking advantage of our second summer month is what was once generically called a “civic holiday”, held on the first Monday of every August. Now it is called Terry Fox Day, and for good reason. Terry Fox is a Winnipeg-born national hero who captured the hearts and minds of Canadians for his inspirational cross-country 1980 Marathon of Hope run to raise money to cure cancer — a disease which still claims far too many lives despite all the amazing progress on a number of cancer fronts.

One of the many ways Terry Fox has been recognized in Canada for his unwavering courage, and incredible feat, has been through WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame program. Established in 1986, it’s a program that was created to celebrate and honour outstanding citizens who have gone to exceptional lengths to enhance Winnipeg’s quality of life.

Former mayor Stephen Juba was the first inductee. The 44th inductee will be announced and inducted this fall, and like all previous ones, will have a commissioned bronze sculpture installed and prominently displayed at the Citizens Hall of Fame site. Fox was inducted in 2010 and is the only inductee to be described as a hero in the area of specialty denoted for their contributions.

This excerpt from Norma Currie’s nomination speech illustrates why his name has come to be synonymous with heroism:

“Terry Fox ran a marathon a day (26 miles) every day of the week for more than 4 2/3 months, on one leg, through every kind of weather imagi snable, across Canada’s rough and diversified terrain, up and down huge hills,” said Currie. “He was blown off the road at times by semi-trailers . . . He had one growth the size of a lemon in one lung and one lump the size of a golf ball in the other for at least part of the run.”

Another outstanding Canadian known for her own unwavering support of Fox’s dream was his mother, Betty Fox. She worked tirelessly to ensure that her son’s Marathon of Hope became a legacy that has carried on to this day, raising over $600 million for cancer research. Sadly, she passed away in 2011.

The Citizens Hall of Fame had the good fortune to be graced with her presence, and that of many other Fox family members, at the induction ceremony held in late August 2010. Little did we know at the time that this same month would eventually become very special for all Manitobans on their annual civic holiday.

At that induction ceremony, Betty Fox gave a heartfelt and gracious speech.

“During the Marathon of Hope, Terry never wavered from his conviction that what he was doing would make a difference in someone’s life. Today, Terry’s unselfish sacrifice has made a difference in the lives of so many who have survived their own personal battle with cancer.

“It touches our family deeply knowing that Terry continues to make people believe that each one of us can make a difference. Terry said, ‘I want to set an example that will never be forgotten.’

“Terry’s example of perseverance, courage and inspiration is as important today as it was in the year after his Marathon (of Hope).”

WinnipegREALTORS® was only too pleased to accommodate Betty Fox’s wish that the statue of her son, now displayed at the Citizens Hall of Fame site in Assiniboine Park, did not show him grimacing in pain, but instead portrayed his good-natured personality,  with a smile on his face. But his pain was clearly the world’s gain through the legacy he left behind, in what he has accomplished through his amazing run to support and find cures for cancer.

Kudos to the Manitoba government for ensuring that Terry Fox’s memory will carry on for years to come by naming the province’s August civic holiday Terry Fox Day. And don’t forget to support the annual Terry Fox Run on September 16 at Assiniboine Park.

So, if you are out and about in Winnipeg on Monday, August 6, you may want to check out WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame site in the southeast corner of Assiniboine Park. It has many wonderful inductee sculptures in addition to the portraiture of Terry Fox sculpted by local artist Erin Brown. Due to the construction of Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s new and exciting Diversity Gardens project, it is important to note that the Citizens Hall of Fame is currently not directly approachable by car. However, it is still easily accessible by walking or cycling.

And don’t forget to take advantage of the QR code on each pedestal to learn more about all of these outstanding citizens so deserving of being recognized for their many contributions to our city.