On November 28, a new musical premiered at Sheridan College. Marathon of Hope is based on the true life story of Terry Fox and his determination to run across Canada to raise much needed awareness and funds for the fight against cancer.
I was eleven years old when Terry Fox ran through my community in 1980. I vividly remember the images on TV and I have great memories from the years of charity runs that I’ve participated in over the years. But I grew up, I suspect, like many kids of my generation, simply knowing that Canada has a cultural giant by the name of Terry Fox without ever really stopping to learn or ponder what it would take, both physically and emotionally, to run a marathon every day — least of all as a 22-year old cancer survivor and amputee. Being first acquainted with the story as a child, none of this truly sank in.
“The show was even more of a homecoming when you consider that the show’s writer and composer as well as six of its nine adult performers are Sheridan alumni” – Christine Szustaczek
The play explored the types of conversations, thoughts and feelings that no doubt would have taken place between Terry, his family and his closest friends. Through its beautiful melodies and harmonies and its thoughtful lines and lyrics, I experienced the courage, passion, emotions, commitment, motivation, doubts and tribulations that certainly would have accompanied Terry Fox on his 143-day run from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Now, for the first time, I think I can honestly appreciate why he has captured the hearts and imaginations of so many.
The applause and cheers that erupted during the show’s standing ovation were quickly followed by silence when Terry’s brother Darrell took to the stage. He humbly thanked the actors and the show’s creators for their work in continuing Terry’s legacy.
The evening ended with the surprise announcement that on July 13, 1980, Terry Fox and his brother Darrell visited Sheridan College in Oakville on the original Marathon of Hope tour. The show was even more of a homecoming when you consider that the show’s writer and composer as well as six of its nine adult performers are Sheridan alumni. In addition, the Producer and the Musical Director/Orchestrator are Sheridan faculty members.
What unfolded at Sheridan on November 28 was not only the making of a great Canadian musical, but the chance to discover the humanity behind a hero. That’s what I’ll remember from this show and that’s what I’ll impress upon my kids every September when they’re asked to participate in a run of their own.
Pictured at top of page: Theatre Sheridan performers, Sheridan staff and the family of the late Terry Fox
Written by:Christine Szustaczek, Director of Communications and External Relations at Sheridan.