Many Canadians may know business legend Isadore Sharp as the Founder and former CEO of the Four Seasons Hotel. They may not know that Sharp played a key role in furthering the legacy of the Marathon of Hope. Sadly, Sharp’s son Chris, had passed away from cancer at the young age of 18 in 1978. Terry’s youth, sincerity and spirit had moved Sharp.
When cancer ended Terry’s Run on Sept. 1st in Thunder Bay, it was Sharp who sent Terry and the family a telegram promising to carry on the Marathon of Hope as an annual run. Today, that grassroots support has continued with the help of schools, the media and the Terry Fox Foundation. Looking back over 30 years, Sharpe recalls a couple of moments that have stood out in his mind.
In the early stages of Terry’s Run, he was receiving very little attention.” I spoke with Terry one day from a pay phone when he was in the East Coast. I could sense despair in his voice and suggested a plan. I would pledge $2 for every mile Terry ran and would challenge companies across the country to do the same. We created an ad in the newspapers that read ‘Let’s make Terry’s Run count’. If we could get a thousand companies to participate, we could raise $10 million for cancer research. Terry’s mood changed and he said that’s all I need.”
Sharp continued his efforts to gain financial support by hosting a luncheon for 500 business people at the Four Season’s Hotel in Toronto, including Lieutenant Governor Pauline McGibbon. Sharp comments that Terry dressed as he had run, with his artificial leg exposed, his gray shorts and t-shirt and he held a paper clip in one hand. Terry spoke from the heart, he didn’t have any notes. He was explaining what he was trying to do and why he was trying to do it. It was the why the captured the audience.
“Terry had that ability to communicate in a way that people responded to,” Sharp stated, “because it really came from the heart. He got people to rethink their priorities. Everyone was in awe, it was as though they had stopped breathing. It was so quiet that you could hear Terry nervously flick the paperclip in his hand,” Sharp remembers. “I regret not taping the talk, as you can’t always recall as it exactly happened, it was so dramatic.”
Terry made a lasting impression on millions. People like Isadore Sharp helped make that possible.