Special Awareness Days

September 18th Terry Fox Day


By any standards, Terry Fox was amazing. By Canada’s standards, he is a hero. This active young man from Canada’s west coast was diagnosed with bone cancer when he was 18 years old. After having his right leg amputated above the knee in 1977, Terry wanted to do something to help the many people in our country who suffer from this disease. He set about to raise money for cancer research by running across the country as part of his “Marathon of Hope.” Sadly, after running for 143 days and over 5,000 km, Terry had to stop his marathon when the cancer spread to his lungs. He died on June 28th, 1981, at the age of 22.

Terry’s legacy continues when every year in September people young and old gather for the Terry Fox Run to raise money for cancer research. Visit the Terry Fox Foundation to join a run or learn about more ways to get involved. 

Terry Fox is indeed a Canadian hero.

Note that the date of Terry Fox Day varies regionally. British Columbia and Ontario celebrate it on the second Sunday of September, Manitoba on the first Monday of August. The national date for the Terry Fox Run is usually the second Sunday of September.

Activity Burst Ideas

Grades K-2

Ask students whether they have ever heard about a person named Terry Fox and what he did. Share the information in the introduction, taking time to explain his situation. Ask:

  • What is a hero? Can you name any?
  • Why do you think Terry Fox was called a hero?
  • What is the difference between a real-life hero like Terry Fox and a “superhero” like Superman or Wonder Woman?

Ask students what they could do to be a hero for someone. Encourage small things like taking the dog for a walk, helping an elderly neighbour weed or rake the garden, etc.

Provide mural paper, paint, construction paper, markers etc. and ask students to draw themselves or someone else acting like a real hero. Post in the hall or front lobby of your school. 

Grades 3-5

Have students draw a picture of a hero. Share with the class. How many included a cape, a power symbol, or other fantasy elements? Ask students whether they think real-life heroes look like this.

Explain that heroes are also people like Terry Fox who do something special to make the world a better place. Ask students what they think are the characteristics of a true hero. Who do they think are heroes in their community? Why might these people be called heroes? 

Grades 6-8

Sometimes our concept of heroes is based on media hype, word of mouth, sensationalism, or something other than facts.

What do you think distinguishes a real hero?

Write a poem, short story, or blog about someone (real or imaginary) that you think is a hero. Be prepared to explain why you selected this person and what they do to make the world a better place.

Other online resources:

For more information and lesson plans related to Terry Fox, check out the Terry Fox Foundation.

Additional Ideas:

All grades – Health and Fitness, School/Community Spirit

As Terry said, “Anything is possible!” You can make a difference by participating in the 2022  Terry Fox Run (Sunday, September 18th.)

Register as a school or group with The Terry Fox Foundation, or consult the Terry Fox School Run page for take part in a number of exciting and engaging activities. This link also includes videos, lesson plans, and tools to facilitate your involvement.


  • Encouraging the whole school to walk, run, bike, wheel, or think of new ways they can participate in the school run.

  • Asking students to set a personal goal, such as a certain number of steps, laps around the school, or blocks in the neighbourhood. (Always keep in mind the importance of social distancing and hygiene precautions).

  • Getting pledges from friends and family and donating the proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society, the local children’s hospital cancer centre, or another local charity that assists in the fight against cancer.

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