Over the past year and a half, much has been made of the everyday heroes in our lives, people such as first responders, frontline healthcare workers, truck drivers and retail workers among others.
The outpouring is not misplaced.
By definition, a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
While we may argue over the appropriateness, breadth or timeliness of governments’ responses to the pandemic, these people, whose contributions to the functioning of society are most often taken for granted, have stepped up in the face of challenges not of their own making and deserve our respect.
Heroes are important people in our lives. Whether it is a parent, a sibling, a workplace mentor, an accomplished person in a creative field we share, or even a fictional character, they exemplify qualities to which we all aspire, such as empathy, courage and compassion.
They inspire and motivate us to be better and perhaps even do great things, to be heroes in our own right.
Of course, some heroes are truly transcendent.
This September marks 41 years since Terry Fox’s cross-country run was cut short west of Thunder Bay, Ontario by the very disease he was running to defeat.
Few people in Canadian history, perhaps none, have captured the collective imagination like this youth from Port Coquitlam, BC was able to do.
During the 153-day Marathon of Hope, Terry ran 5,373 kilometres in 153 days and reached his lofty dream of raising $1 for each and every Canadian at the time ($24 million) and united Canadians from coast to coast in a single noble cause.
But while his accomplishments at the time were remarkable, it is his legacy that is truly stunning.
Terry once said, “I want to set an example that will never be forgotten.”
Forty-one years later, it has not been. The annual Terry Fox Run continues in communities across Canada and around the world. It has raised more than $850 million to fund cancer research.
This weekend, tens of thousands of people in more than 650 Canadian communities will take to the streets again guided by the simple but powerful message that anything is possible if you “try like Terry.”
Four decades on, the man himself has taken on an almost mythical, legendary quality, but in 1980, he was just an ordinary Canadian kid who turned hope into something truly extraordinary through hard work, determination and perseverance.
A real everyday hero turned superhero.