This year's Terry Fox Run will be dedicated to a very special man.
Rolly Fox, father of Terry Fox, died late Tuesday afternoon. Condolences poured in from across the country for Fox, and right here in Chilliwack where Fox family resided for many years.
Desmond Devnich, organizer for Chilliwack's Fox Run, said he will sincerely miss Rolly's guidance, optimism, and sense of humour.
"Organizing a Terry Fox Run in any community is a rewarding experience, but it was a special blessing to coordinate the Chilliwack community run with Rolly's guidance and support," he said. "Often, he would send me a note of support or drop by my office for a visit — always with a clever joke and a smile. It was an honour to have Rolly at the organizing committee table and I know our volunteers were thrilled to meet him. His optimism was infectious and with his dry sense of humour he entertained us and inspired us."
He went on to say that Fox's "passion to further Terry's legacy has touched those fighting cancer across the country, but his memory will always have a special presence in Chilliwack. This year's Terry Fox Run will be dedicated to one of our city's best-loved heroes."
Mayor Sharon Gaetz called Fox a "beloved hero and gentleman who will be deeply missed."
The Fox family issued a statement on Wednesday confirming their patriarch had passed away.
"Our Dad and Grandpa is no longer telling jokes," the said. "Rolland Murray Fox died late afternoon on March 8 while listening to a little Hank Williams. He fulfilled his promise to Terry facing cancer with courage, grace and plenty of humour. He thanked everyone, every time as they left the room after caring for him and each and every family member and friend after a visit.
"Our promise to Dad is to try our very best to focus on the many memories of laughter he gifted us the last few weeks and throughout our lives. His room was always overflowing with family, love, laughter, song and story - does life offer anything better? We have witnessed once again the pain cancer causes but we know, oh how we know, that we are not alone. We have seen first hand the opportunities to extend life because of our nation’s collective belief and investment in cancer research, yet have been forced to accept that they were not available to Dad/Grandpa. We now have your journey, together with Terry's, to offer us inspiration and hope from this day forward, forever more."
Many politicians were moved to acknowledge Fox and his contributions in the name of his son.
"B.C., Canada, and the world have lost a dedicated, resolute pillar in the fight against cancer in Rolly Fox," said Premier Christy Clark. "He made the hero's dream to beat cancer stronger and closer — not just for him, but the millions of people inspired by him and the Fox family, and the thousands of families forever changed by life-saving cancer research.
On Wednesday, Chilliwack MP Mark Strahl stood in the House of Commons in Ottawa to pay tribute to Fox.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to celebrate the life of a remarkable British Columbian, Rolly Fox.
For 36 years, Rolly was the “behind-the-scenes believer” in the mission his son Terry Fox set out on with his Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research. In recent years, he took on a more public role with the Terry Fox Foundation, visiting local runs across the country and personally signing over 14,000 thank-you letters every year."
"Millions of people around the world will mourn the loss of a man whose never ceasing optimism inspired his son to set out on a journey that would bring hope to those facing the darkest chapter of their lives. Rolly will be remembered by those who knew him best for enriching their lives with laughter and for his courage and grace as he faced his life’s last challenge.
Terry, Betty, and now Rolly Fox, fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Let us vow today to pick up the torch they have carried so well, for so long.”