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The Man Behind the Marathon of Hope: Ron Calhoun

Terry Fox and Ron Calhoun, July 1980. Photo from Ron Calhoun’s collection, used with permission.

Well here we are 40 years after our Canadian hero, Terry Fox, started his Marathon of Hope across Canada with the behind-the-scenes help of Ron Calhoun. Ron was the Canadian Cancer Society Special Events Chair who worked out all the details to make Terry’s run successful. And he did a fabulous job.

From the starting date of April 12th, 1980 to the day Terry was forced to suspend his run in September of that same year, his story grew and grew. And so did the dollars raised. Today the Terry Fox Foundation counts the total at approximately $800,000,000.

Municipalities all across the part of the country where Terry ran treasure the memories. They are so delighted to have been part of this huge undertaking that they find many ways to salute that indomitable young man.

Last year my husband and I were in London walking along the Terry Fox Parkway near the Thames River.  We were there to take part in inducting a new park bench to celebrate Ron Calhoun(and his wife Fran) and his tremendous contributions to our area and to the whole country, if not the world.

Ron at 86 reliving the Marathon of Hope when he spoke at the dedication of the bench in London, Ontario.

Just this past week, Woodstock, Ontario added their own memorial to the hundreds across the country. Here is the story in the Woodstock Sentinel Review.   

John Versaevel, the chair of the Woodstock Terry Fox Run, and Woodstock Mayor Trevor Birtch watch the raising of the Terry Fox flag at Museum Square Wednesday July 15, 2020. The day celebrates the 40th anniversary since Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope travelled through Woodstock. Greg Colgan/Sentinel-Review/Postmedia Network jpg, WD

The appendix of The Man Behind the Marathons: How Ron Calhoun Helped Terry Fox and Other Heroes Make Millions for Charity lists many of the many awards and accomplishments of Ron Calhoun. He was a quiet, rather unassuming man who liked to ‘drive from the back seat’. In other words he liked to suggest ideas and then see how others would proceed with them.

He used this method in many instances as John Davidson, of Jesse’s Journey fame, experienced. Ron helped him in his quest to find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. John is now the humble head of Jesse’s Journey which gives out to researchers around the world $1,000,000 every year to help eradicate that disease.

With Ron’s passing in February of 2020, an initiative to have him awarded the Order of Canada, along with all of his other awards came abruptly to an end. Unfortunately at this time the body in charge of awarding those medals only gives them to living recipients.

This seems unfair as Ron Calhoun’s services to this country and the world have not disappeared because of his death. His has been an exemplary life, much of it spent in service to others. He told this author that he hoped when he died that he would have left this world a better place. I think he has done that in spades. He deserves recognition.



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