Written by Brian Cute, CEO of Public Interest Registry

Photo by: Boris Spremo

What drives a person to try to change the world for the better?

Why do “ordinary” people muster their energy and limited resources, turn them into passion with purpose, and attempt the impossible? It’s a connection. A connection to another person’s story. Another person’s struggle. A connection to a community’s aspirations. It’s always a connection.

In the case of Terry Fox, it was not only his personal experience as a cancer patient but the sight of other children suffering in the cancer ward. As he put it, “Kids my age and younger. You just can’t leave something like that and forget it and I couldn’t anyway. I had to try and do something about it.”

And so, on this day 35 years ago, Terry dipped his artificial toe in the Atlantic near St. John’s, Newfoundland and took his first stride on the “Marathon of Hope.” On an artificial leg, he set out to run across Canada to raise $1 Million dollars for cancer research. He would raise awareness and donations by running a marathon every single day until he reached the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver.

A marathon a day, on an artificial leg.

Terry got as far as Thunder Bay before his own cancer returned and forced him back to the hospital for treatment. Cancer ultimately took his life 9 months later. By then, he had run 3,339 miles over 4 months. And he raised over $12 million dollars for cancer research.

What drives people to try to change the world for the better? The opportunity to connect; the hope of making others see why they, too, should take action to support a cause that they truly care about.

Today, 35 years since Terry began the Marathon of Hope, people from all walks of life, all over the world, are able to connect with each other in ways never before imagined, thanks to the Internet. Social media, blogs, fundraising websites and crowdfunding platforms empower us all to take action. Really, think about it…whether it’s a breast cancer survivor educating women in India, young women teaching leadership skills to teenage girls in Kathmandu, or a global superstar using his or her status to help children throughout the world, it’s never been easier to find a cause to connect with.

Terry Fox’s inspirational story proves that courage and determination can truly change the world for the better. While the daily news often presents a negative drumbeat that can test our optimism, the Internet spawns new opportunities to witness the good happening across each region, every day. The digital landscape has connected people like you and me to the Terry Foxs of the world — people whose mission you believe in and whose cause you may want to support. Get online. Take a look. Offer your support, your donation, and your voice. You might just find a true hero who is trying to change the world for the better. Maybe that hero is you.

The Marathon of Hope continues. Thank you Terry.