Betty Fox, mother of Terry Fox, dies in B.C.
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, June 17, 2011 9:43PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:06AM EDT
Betty Fox, the matriarch who carried on her son Terry's dream of raising funds to fight cancer, died Friday morning in B.C.
"It is with considerable sadness that we share that our wife, mother and grandmother died at 8:25am (PT) this morning," the Fox family sad in a statement.
"Betty was comfortable the last few weeks and months of her life, was always full of wit and rarely alone."
The Fox family, including Betty, helped carry on Terry's goal of raising funds for cancer research long after his death. They established the foundation that bears his name and organize the annual Terry Fox runs held around the world.
To date, their efforts have helped raise more than half a billion dollars in Terry's name.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark called Fox a great Canadian who displayed courage while facing personal tragedy.
"On behalf of all British Columbians, I want to express my condolences to Betty's husband Rolly, her children and friends," Clark said in a statement Friday.
The Terry Fox Foundation had announced earlier this month that Betty was seriously ill. Her family did not divulge the details of her illness, except to say that she was not suffering from cancer.
News of her illness led to a wave of support from well-wishers across the country and beyond.
Rick Hansen, who crossed the globe by wheelchair to raise funds for spinal cord research and considers himself a family friend, called Betty "a remarkable Canadian who has made unprecedented contributions to Canada and the world" in a statement released earlier this month.
"She has been such an incredible ambassador for the legacy that her son left behind and also an incredible ambassador for the work that Terry started for it to continue," Fred Tinck, Terry's high school running coach, told The Canadian Press on Friday.
"I mean, when you think about the fact that Terry's run was, you know, 30 years ago and that it's still very much alive and literally tens of thousands, probably even hundreds of thousands of people who were not even born when Terry did his run are still running today in his legacy. I mean, that's an incredible accomplishment."
Betty's efforts at preserving her son Terry's legacy were recognized last year when she was chosen to help carry the Olympic torch into the stadium last year, lighting the cauldron at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
In January of 2011, at the unveiling of four bronze statues dedicated to Terry, she asked that a museum be erected to commemorate her son's journey.
The family is asking that people respect their privacy "at this difficult time."
Terry was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1977, at age 18, and doctors amputated his right leg above the knee.
On April 12, 1980, Terry set off on his Marathon of Hope in St. John's, N.L. He ran a marathon, or 42 kilometres per day, in the months ahead but was forced to stop running near Thunder Bay, Ont., after the cancer returned, this time to his lungs.
He died at age 22 on June 28, 1981.
Less than three months later, about 300,000 people took part in the first Terry Fox Run. The event was held at more than 760 sites across Canada and raised $3.5 million.
Betty and her son Darrell established the Terry Fox Foundation in 1988, which raises funds for cancer research in 28 countries by holding annual Terry Fox Runs.
Two other organizations have been set up in his name. The Terry Fox Hall of Fame opened in Toronto in 1994, which recognizes Canadians who have helped those living with physical disabilities. And the Terry Fox Research Institute opened in 2007, helping researchers to collaborate with cancer hospitals.
With files from The Canadian Press