The spirit of Terry Fox flies over Cuba

Cancer is the main cause of death in Cuba. Between 30 and 40 thousand cases are annually detected in adults. It’s hard to find a family that hasn’t been affected by this disease, one way of another. Therefore, nobody was surprised when, once again, Terry Fox Marathon for Hope gathered hundreds of thousands Cuban participants that showed their support to the fight against cancer, by racing in this non-competitive event.

The largest group came together in Havana. Right in front of “Kid Chocolate” sports center and near the Capitol —a iconic building that is presently undergoing a comprehensive reconstructive process— an impressive number of handicap people, elderly women and men, children, people from different nationalities heard the starting shot and started walking along the three kilometers established by the organizers. There were no losers in this race that is aimed at raising funds to develop researches on cancer, as well as fostering wellness and healthier lifestyles.

The support provided by the Canadian Embassy was a key element in the 18th edition of Terry Fox Marathon in Cuba. The Canadian ambassador, Yves Gagnon, was at the starting line and expressed that Marathon was “amazing, just like the studies that are conducted here to promote the early detection or cure of cancer. The Cuban spirit always targets victory. This event proves it. I saw it last year and now I feel it again”, Mr. Gagnon told the media.

Cuba is the second country with more participants in the race, only surpassed by Canada. That interest and support was highlighted by Gagnon, who said to be proud “not only because this is the largest event out of my country and it takes place throughout Cuba, but I’ve witnessed the respect shown by the Cuban people to the history of Terry Fox and their enthusiasm when participating in the marathon. That’s why I thank the Cuban people and government, medical and research institutions, volunteers and the incredible team of the Marabana-Maracuba Project that guarantee the technical development of the event”, the diplomat pointed out.

Terry Fox: A Global Example

Terry Fox was born in Canada in 1958 and, during 19 years, he lived like any other young man; but in 1977 the doctors detected a malignant tumor in his right leg. Everything changed for Terry overnight. The doctors had to amputate his leg above the knee.

Instead of sitting and crying for his loss, Terry was strong enough to tee off a long tour throughout Canada in 1980. Despite his prosthesis, the inclement weather, Terry continued his journey and attracted enthusiasts to his cause. Day after day, he walked nearly 40 kilometers. He was doing this to raise funds and helps finance researches on cancer, and showed the world that this disease can be faced and defeated.

After 143 racing days in a row and over 5 thousand kilometers, the disease attacked Terry’s body again. Cancer spread to his lungs and made him stop.

Terry passed away on June 28, 1981. In order to pay tribute to this man, the Canadian government decreed national mourning day and raised the flag to half-mast. One of the peaks of the Rocky Mountains was named after him and Terry was described as one of the most influential Canadian people of the 20th century.

A Race for Hope

Terry Fox Marathon was organized shortly after his death. In 1998 Cuba joined the list of over one hundred countries that annually organize this race.

The 2015 edition in Cuba was an extraordinarily touching experience. Mothers with their little children, people on wheelchairs or using crutches made their best to reach the finish line. Many of them did it, others couldn’t; but they all showed the world —especially themselves— that they are winners in the battle for life.

Posted by Miguel Ernesto, Panamerican World

March 16, 2015

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