Terry Fox is a hero to people all over the world for his Marathon of Hope efforts, but you may not be aware of who Terry’s heroes were. Like many Canadian boys who grew up hockey fans in the 70’s, Terry looked up to Darryl Sittler and Bobby Orr, both Canadian Hockey icons and Hockey Hall of Famers. Sittler and Orr met Terry in Toronto during the Marathon of Hope, as well as playing a role in the Terry Fox Run telethon after Terry was forced to stop the Run when cancer had spread to his lungs.
Looking back 30 years ago, Sittler often thinks of Terry and discussed the memories of the Marathon of the Hope and the relationship he had with Terry.
“I remember the picture in the newspaper of Terry dipping his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean at the beginning of his Run and being inspired by what he was about to do. It really had an impact on me,” Sittler stated.
“I continued to follow the news about him on the tour, but he wasn’t getting much exposure. Bill Vigars, head of the Ontario Cancer Society, contacted me about meeting with Terry when he approached Toronto. I wanted to meet Terry as much as he wanted to meet me. We met at the Four Season’s Hotel and I found him very humble and shy.”
“He had already done 13 miles that day. I brought my shorts and t-shirt, so I had the opportunity to run with him down University Avenue. There were thousands of people in attendance and it was very emotional. Before I left home, I had picked up my All Star Jersey to give to Terry,”Sittler shared.
When the run stopped, Sittler stayed in touch with Terry and continued to be involved, playing a role in the CTV Telethon. When the Leafs had a game in Vancouver, he invited Terry to the dressing room after the game. “Terry was very excited to meet everyone, but you could tell it took a lot of effort as the cancer was taking its toll on his body.”
In 2002, Sittler’s wife, Wendy, lost her battle with colon cancer. He has since remarried.
Sittler has continued his support of the Terry Fox Foundation and was part of the family head shaving event in Vancouver as part of the 27th Anniversary. He plans to participate as a part of the 30th Anniversary by running with Terry Fox supporter, Isadore Sharp.
“My opinion is that Terry Fox is the Greatest Canadian ever,” Sittler comments. “What he did is untouchable.”