I just wish people would realize anything’s possible if you try.” ~Terry Fox

Well into that 1980 summer, Terry was making his way through Northern Ontario, a section of the Marathon of Hope route that was famous for the unending hills of the Canadian Shield. Those hills made Terry’s job even harder.

“Meanwhile, Ron [Calhoun] got a call one night at the dinner hour. Doug Alward was on the phone with the news that Terry wanted to see a doctor.

Ron knew that meant Terry must be in serious trouble. Doug told him that Terry’s foot was really bothering him and he wanted to be seen. Ron felt it could be other things. He started to call around for a specialist who could look at Terry’s foot. He also thought perhaps the time had come to have doctors look at Terry’s heart whether Terry wanted them to or not. Together he and Bill Vigars tracked down a small Cessna, which flew from Hamilton to London, arriving about 11 p.m. The airport had shut down by that time but Ron and Bill were sitting all by themselves in the empty airport when a little craft landed outside on the tarmac. As they watched, a very petite woman left the plane and came inside. She was 4’11” and dressed in an airline uniform.

‘Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Vigars, come with me. We have your plane,’ she said, and led them out of the airport.

Ron was impressed that they even had a flight attendant for this small plane. When they got in the plane, though, she slipped into the pilot’s seat! Not only was she the pilot but also she was sitting on a cluster of pillows to get her high enough to actually be able to see out of the plane. And sitting beside her was a large co-pilot who made her–the pilot–look even smaller.

As the small plane approached Sault Ste. Marie, a storm began to settle in over the lakes forcing the pilot to land at the Sault and wait out the storm. When they finally did take off again, rather than fly over Lake Superior, the pilot used the Trans Canada Highway as her guide to go where she wanted to go. Calhoun said later they flew at a fairly low elevation and they could see the ground first in the moonlight and then as daylight was breaking.” 

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

The rest of the story of that night and the next day carries on in Chapter 4 of The Man Behind the Marathons. Listening to Ron, a great storyteller, tell his tale was delightful with never a dull moment.

When they finally got to see the doctor, Terry asked Ron to come in with him and Ron did. The doctor examined Terry and gave him instructions to take time off for the splint fracture to heal. He asked to speak to Ron alone and Terry left the room.

The doctor sat at his small desk and turned to Ron. ‘If this is what I think it is, it’s too heinous to mention. He should really be seen by a specialist that could deal with…what I think it is.’

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

[Stay tuned for Part V on May 27, 2020]

As a special treat I’ve added a 4-minute video I made with Ron Calhoun in December of 2018. Ron was 85 at the time. Here he is telling about how he first heard of Terry Fox.

 

Click on the image below to purchase The Man Behind the Marathons and get the whole story.

 

[Stay tuned for Part V on May 27, 2020]

 

Tags: , , ,