Thursday, October 07, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30 review: Into the Wind (The Terry Fox Story)

For the last 5+ years of my life I have lived in Korea and during this time, I have been fascinated by this group of people that call themselves Canadians. From what I have heard from the majority of these Canadian people, they love hockey, wear or have something with a maple leaf on it, speak with a funny accent, they seem to love something called "Tim Hortons coffee and they always seem to talk about this famous person by the name of Terry Fox

All I really recalled about the person was that back in 1980 he tried to run across Canada to try and raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society and that he didn't make it. I recall that he died a while before his 23rd birthday. If you want his complete story please click on here for a CBC story about his life.

I then saw that ESPN in their 30 for 30 series was going to do a documentary about this man and that it was going to be directed by NBA 2 time MVP Steve Nash. I knew that I wanted to see this and also to see if I could understand why my friends from the north (The Canadians) recently named him the 2nd greatest Canada's hero of all-time

The film starts out with a crazy idea; what if this 21 year old kid, with 1 leg could actually try and run across Canada in something he was calling "The Marathon of Hope" with the idea of trying to raise money for the fight against cancer. You see that on April 12, 1980 he starts his adventure. Then you start to see this kid turn into a man by his will just to keep on going. Soon, with the help of the CCS, his entrance into Ottawa on Canada Day really is when his story starts to spread.

A member of the CCS, Bill Vigars, who joined Terry's team as a pr man, stated for the Documentary, "That he hoped that people knew who he is, Terry, before he kicked the opening ball in a Canadian Football League game. All the announcer said was Ladies and gentlemen, and the crowd stood and cheered when they saw Terry walk onto the field. The crowd went crazy; he also stated that this was the first time that he and Terry realized that this story was going to take off. After this the Nation of Canada received daily front page newspaper updates of this man’s travels and his goal of fund raising and how many more miles he has to go until the end of his journey to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The documentary also shows the growing pains of Terry and his friend Doug Alward and how they brought in Terry's brother Darrell to help liven the mood. The film also tells about a 12 year old boy name, Greg Scott, who just had his leg amputated also because of cancer, join Terry for a day and how it inspired Terry more to run (The film stated that soon after meeting Terry Greg Scott lost his life to cancer)

I also liked a funny part of the documentary when Planters Peanuts would give the CCS a nice donation if, for the final mile of the run, if Mr. Peanut could run along Terry. Terry sated, “Sure, if I get to wear the costume."

He was about half way to his goal when he started to become very tired and he had trouble starting to sleep. On September 1st he was suffering an intense coughing fit and experienced pains in his chest. He asked to go to the hospital. It was discovered that the cancer had returned and it had now spread into his lungs. Terry had to quit his run across Canada for the time being. He hoped to one day resume the run and complete his, "Marathon of Hope".

Fox had raised $1.7 million by the time he had to stop. A week after his run ended, the CTV Television Network organized a nationwide telethon in support of Fox and the Canadian Cancer Society. The documentary shows that while the telethon was going on he was undergoing chemotherapy. He hoped that the people could see his real struggle with cancer. The telethon was supported by Canadian and international celebrities, the five-hour event raised $10.5 million. Donations continued throughout the winter, and by the following April, over $23 million had been raised, almost 1 dollar for each Canadian Citizen in 1981.

You start to see that a nation is cheering on and praying for their hero to beat cancer and you start to see the Canadian Government realize just what he has actually accomplished. In September 1980 he was invested in a special ceremony as a Companion of the Order of Canada; he was the youngest person to be so honored. Fox was named the winner of the Lou Marsh Award for 1980 as the nation's top athlete. He was named Canada's 1980 Newsmaker of the Year. The Ottawa Citizen described the national response to his marathon as "one of the most powerful outpourings of emotion and generosity in Canada's history".

But if you know the story, you know this one does not have a happy ending. Fox was re-admitted to the New Westminster hospital on June 19, 1981, with chest congestion and developed pneumonia. He fell into a coma and died at 4:35 a.m. PDT on June 28, 1981, with his family by his side. The Government of Canada ordered flags across the country lowered to half mast, an unprecedented honor that was usually reserved for statesmen. His parents had to bury their 22 year old son who had become Canada's son who, to this day, is still Canada's son.

Every year since his death there have been Terry Fox Run to raise money for cancer research. I recall in past runs, Canadians running, walking or bike riding, just to honor the memory of this man.

I thought this summed up best who Terry Fox was, It was stated by Leslie Scrivener, Toronto Star, a reporter who covered his run of hope in back in 1980 and it was included at the end of this film.

"Canadians are always concerned about their sense of self identity. Who are we? We don't have Martin Luther King. We don't have Nelson Mandela. I guess that there's a sense of just grittiness. You just put your head down and work. We really work hard. He really worked hard.

The film ends with credits stating that the Terry Fox Foundation has helped raise over 500 million for cancer research and that he ran 3,339 miles in 143 days.

As I earlier stated in this review, I really didn't know a lot about this person until after I saw this film and maybe, just maybe, I finally get why he is a national hero. He was honored to be from Canada and on his marathon for hope shirts you always saw 2 things, the Canadian country and the maple leaf. He took what his country had taught him and showed the world what 1 man can do. I know that the majority of my Canadian friends know his story very well, this review is for the rest of us so we can get to know his legacy better.

Please watch this 30 for 30 when you get the chance.

Grade A+

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