[Since this series started a month ago with Part I, Ron Calhoun has passed away. A Canadian hero, his story is now even more important to tell and to remember. Here is the Globe and Mail obituary. Rest in peace, my friend.]

Knowing that Terry Fox had an enlarged heart and that his doctors had said he should not be doing the Marathon of Hope, Ron Calhoun sat in his General Motors office in London, Ontario, his own heart pounding. He was taking a huge risk. And not only him. Terry, the Cancer Society and all those working to help Terry succeed were involved and most of them didn’t know about Terry’s heart.

Ron talked on the phone to Terry’s parents and chose to let Terry continue for the moment. In Halifax the team would meet with the Foxes and he would see what their family decision might be. In the meantime, with Doug Alward just behind him in the van, the young man was forging his way along Newfoundland’s treacherous snowy highways.

Chapter Two, The Man Behind the Marathons by Elaine Cougler.

Terry faced much more snow and much worse conditions in Newfoundland than this photo shows. Many days he had to wait for the snow and the wind to abate and allow him to run.

Meanwhile, another problem surfaced. 81-year-old Harry Crawshaw was originally part of the Marathon of Hope. He was trying to do a Guinness Book run. He promised to ride his collapsible bike across the country from BC to Halifax, meet Terry in Halifax, and then run pulling the bike back across the country. Of course he would have checkpoints all along the way to satisfy the Guinness people.

The problem was, he didn’t do the checkpoints and his credibility was lost. Terry didn’t want to be associated with him any longer. He told Ron, “You have a decision to make. It’s him or me.”

Of course, Ron decided to dump Crawshaw and stick with Terry, a decision that probably contributed in a huge way to the ultimate success of Terry’s Marathon of Hope.

He had other worries, though.

Unfortunately something Ron Calhoun called the “wave” had not begun to happen and funds just weren’t accumulating as he wanted. He knew that in order to make the big monies appear, people had to be donating where Terry was, where he had been and even where he was going. Like a huge wave washing in upon the shore with a swell both ahead and behind the highest point, the donations had to take  on their own continual ebb and flow.

He worried Terry’s efforts would be for naught but one night he and his wife, Fran, heard on the news that the Fox family were all really enthused about Terry’s progress, and were behind him 100%. He knew then the family had decided to support Terry’s marathon in spite of the dangers to his health.

Chapter Two, The Man Behind the Marathons by Elaine Cougler.

A father himself, Ron understood the strain the Fox family were experiencing and he often thought how tormented they must be. They were caught in between what their son wanted and what was good for his health. Through it all, Terry kept running, “focusing on the next telephone pole or tree or object that appeared out of the fog or around the bend.”

[Stay tuned for Part III on March 25, 2020]

Glen Alward, Terry Fox, Ron Calhoun, Harry Crawshaw, Betty Fox. Vancouver, early 1980

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Join us for the 12-day tour of Newfoundland and Labrador this summer. Press here for details. We’d love to have you.

 

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