THE CANADIAN rugby team introduced themselves to the city of Leeds ahead of their World cup clash as they proudly sang their national anthem today.
But the players spoke with even more pride as they told the story of Canadian fundraising hero Terry Fox, who ran more than 3,000 miles for charity across the country after losing his leg to cancer.
His fundraising journey is the stuff of legend in Canada. And this afternoon the nation’s rugby union team took to the city to raise money in his memory before delivering a rousing rendition of O Canada to the crowd of shoppers gathered at Trinity Leeds.
The Canadian team are in World Cup action against Italy at Elland Road, on Saturday, and are expecting a tough match. But the players said they were using Terry Fox’s story as an inspiration. Terry was 18 when he was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to have his leg amputated above the knee. While in hospital he decided to run across Canada to raise funds after being moved by the plight of other patients.
Starting with little attention he began his run in Newfoundland on April 12, 1980. From there he would run around 26 miles a day for 143 days on a prosthetic leg. The cancer appeared in his lungs forcing Terry to stop outside Thunder Bay, Ontario, having run more than 3,000 miles. He passed away in June 1981, aged just 22, but his journey continues to inspire his country.
More than $650m has been raised in his name and today Canada’s rugby team continued this fundraising effort at Trinity Leeds shopping centre.
Fitness coach Andy Evans said: “He is one of the greatest ever Canadians and his story is inspiring to the players.”
Player Evan Olmstead added: “Everyone in Canada knows Terry Fox’s story. What he did was incredible not just the athletic achievement but also what he overcame.”
The players arrived in Yorkshire yesterday having played their opening pool match in Wales against Ireland.
Olmstead said the Canadian team had been given a warm welcome so far. “Leeds is interesting. Its great. This is my first trip to the North of England. Everyone told us it would rain all the time but the weather has been really good so far.”