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It’s time to give Betty Fox’s legacy the attention it deserves

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Betty Fox passed away on June 17th, 2011…two days after the Canucks lost Game 7 and the riots ensued.

Memories: For Betty Fox; the constant reminder of her son is the hardest part of her involvement wit
Memories: For Betty Fox; the constant reminder of her son is the hardest part of her involvement with the Terry Fox Run.
Photo by Boris Spremo/Toronto Star via Getty Images

June 15th 2011...a day that will be infamously remembered as the night the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to Boston.

We have been reminded of the atrocities of this night every year around this time. That’s been especially true this year with 10-year anniversary now upon us.

Unfortunately, the 2011 loss has been inescapable for Canucks fans, even 10 years later.

However, there is another day from the same week in 2011 that matters way more than a pro-sports loss. It is an event that, because of the aftermath of June 15th, 2011, didn’t truly get the attention it deserved.

June 17th, 2011 was the day that Betty Fox passed away. The mother of the Greatest Canadian runner-up and British Columbia’s proudest son. Terry Fox’s contributions to fighting cancer are immeasurable, which is shown by the fact that the Marathon of Hope is celebrated in local schools every September, some 40 years after his death.

It takes a special human being to put themselves through exorbitant amounts of pain for the sole purpose of making a positive impact in the lives of others. That amount of self-sacrifice requires maturity and perspective. You wouldn’t expect these traits out of 20-year-olds who are typically much more concerned with “what’s the most fun”. You would expect them out of people who are likely older, more mature, and wiser. All of these traits are only possible in young people through strong values and character fostered by parents or guardians.

2010 Paralympic Games: Opening Ceremony- Day 1
Betty and Rolly Fox (R), parents of Terry Fox, light the torch carried by Daniel Wesley during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympic Games at BC Place on March 12, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Rolly and Betty Fox provided the environment which nurtured and fostered Terry Fox. They also poured their heart and soul into Terry Fox Foundation, which had benefitted so’ many Canadians over the past four decades.

Simply put, without Betty Fox, the Marathon of Hope isn’t possible, and neither is the $800 million dollars of donations raised in Terry Fox’s name.

When the late Walter Gretzky died, the entire country stopped for a few days to honour Canada’s hockey dad. The late Walter Gretzky’s contributions to hockey and Canadian society are massive. His legacy was rightfully honoured. The reaction was deafening.

The outpouring of reaction to Betty Fox’s death was significant but unfortunately, her story was overshadowed, at least in British Columbia. This is why it is so very important that as British Columbia, we honour the legacy of Betty Fox today and over the upcoming weeks. We need to make up for what should have happened in 2011.

I recall thinking about the muted reaction the week after Betty Fox’s death. I had classes at SFU Burnaby and walked by the Terry Fox statute. I saw flowers used to write the words MOM in a heart next to the statute.

In that very moment, I recall my heart sinking. I was upset and tearing up because I recognized something that to me is an unquestionable truth.

Terry Fox Betty Fox
Terry Fox is greeted by his mother Betty, in a surprise reunion on Highway 2 near Whitby.
Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The Game 7 loss to the Bruins and the consequent riots shocked British Columbians and local sports fans to their core. Some of us have not recovered to this day. The riots were a public embarrassment that dominated the news for weeks, months – arguably even years as we’re reminded of it whenever June rolls around. As a result, when the riots happened, all other stories in British Columbia took a back seat.

One of those stories that got the short end of the stick was Betty Fox’s death.

It is time that we as British Columbians and local sports fans try to right a wrong. Whether that’s through a donation to the Terry Fox Foundation, taking the time to refresh yourself on Betty Fox’s story, or implementing the values that she carried throughout her life, we all need to make sure that her legacy is given the attention it deserves.