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Terry Fox gets his day in Manitoba

Terry Fox on the Marathon of Hope, July 1981.

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Terry Fox on the Marathon of Hope, July 1981. (COLIN PRICE / POSTMEDIA NETWORK INC. ARCHIVES )

A true Canadian hero is about to have a day in Manitoba named after him.

The August civic holiday will be now known as Terry Fox Day, named after the Winnipeg-born athlete who was just 22 when he died in 1981 during his attempt to run across Canada on one leg in his Marathon of Hope.

While his run was cut short, the annual Terry Fox Run has raised hundreds of millions of dollars over the years for cancer research.

The government will introduce a bill in the upcoming fall session of the legislature to make the change. The province said it came to its decision after a "grassroots movement emerged on social media."

"Terry Fox embodied hope, courage, commitment and strength in the face of adversity," Selinger said in a press release. "Naming the civic holiday after him is a way for all Manitobans to honour this great Canadian for the hero he was."

"Terry Fox did so much in the global fight against cancer. He was not only an inspiring individual but a true pioneer," Selinger said. "Now when people are enjoying a holiday with their friends and family, they will remember the amazing man who inspires so many."

Terry's aunt, Nancy Wall, who lives in Winnipeg, called the news "wonderful" and a real tribute to "a great Canadian boy."

"I'm very pleased, naturally," Wall said today. "He was a wonderful young man. I used to think he could walk on water."

After running 5,374 kilometres in 143 days in 1980 from St. John's, N.L., to Thunder Bay, he had to stop his Marathon of Hope.

Fox was born in Winnipeg in 1958, and moved with his family to British Columbia when he was eight years old.

A natural athlete as a youngster, he excelled in soccer, rugby and baseball. He also did some long-distance running in junior high and high school.

In 1977, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of cancer that often starts near the knees. Doctors told him his leg had to be amputated.

Just two years later, he completed a marathon in B.C., and then started on a plan to run across Canada and raise millions for cancer research.

Fox was forced to stop his marathon in Thunder Bay, Ont., when cancer spread to his lungs.

"He was always a good standup kid, and when he had this horrible thing happen to him, he didn’t want people to feel sorry for him,' said his aunt. "He got sick, but he was already this extraordinary person. The door opened for him to help people out.

"He wasn’t out for publicity. He didn’t do any of it to get his name out. He sincerely wanted to help out."

Wall said she's still overcome by emotion when she thinks about her nephew.

"I have a good cry still when I think about him."

History

Updated on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 8:41 AM CDT:
Adds comments from Terry Fox's aunt.

Updated on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 9:03 AM CDT:
Corrects year Fox was born

Updated on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 12:26 PM CDT:
Adds quotes from Greg Selinger

Updated on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 2:57 AM CDT:
Corrects typo.

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