Betty Fox was beaming Friday evening – and rightfully so.
The Chilliwack resident led the Olympic flag into B.C. Place for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, alongside actor Donald Sutherland, race car driver Jacques Villeneuve, Olympic figure skater Barbara Ann Scott, singer Anne Murray, former Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, hockey icon Bobby Orr, and astronaut Julie Payette – all Canadian greats.
Viewing her confident, regal-looking stride, most would never have guessed that she was shaking with nerves.
“It was so scary,” she said. “I was concentrating on keeping in step with everyone else … I didn’t know when the end would come.”
She was still absorbing the experience three days later.
“Anne Murray is one of my favourite singers, and Barbara Ann Scott was my idol when I was about 13,” said Fox, who still remembers saving up her babysitting money as a kid just so she could purchase a pair of highly coveted Barbara Ann Scott ice skates.
But it was another Canadian legend filling her every thought – her son, Terry Fox.
“Terry was utmost in my mind,” she said. “I was very proud to be apart of the Olympic ceremony, but it was all for Terry. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been there.”
Thirty years ago, after losing his right leg to bone cancer three years earlier, Terry Fox embarked on his ‘Marathon of Hope.’ For 143 days, he ran a marathon a day (42.2 kilometres) for cancer research. And although he never completed his run across Canada, succumbing to cancer in June, 1981, he is for many Canadians, Canada.
Many wanted Betty to be the final torchbearer.
A Facebook group ‘Terry Fox’s mother to light the flame at the 2010 Olympics’ consisted of more than 129,000 members petitioning the Olympic organizing committee for more than a year to allow Betty to light the flame.
And while she was honoured by the notion, Betty felt the Olympic committee did a good job of representing her son with her leading the flag into B.C. Place, and her husband Rolly Fox running with the torch through Stanley Park on Friday morning.
“They [the Olympic organizing committee] did us proud,” she said.
“I am very honoured that so many people in Canada still believe in Terry 30 years later … just being there, being a part of the Olympics, was for me, all about Terry. I was there in place of Terry.”