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‘My hero’: Canadian marathoner honours Terry Fox one last time before he dies

Click to play video: 'Montreal marathoner Eddy Nolan choses to honour Terry Fox one last time before passing'
Montreal marathoner Eddy Nolan choses to honour Terry Fox one last time before passing
WATCH: For the last 43 years, Montreal marathoner and Terry Fox fundraising legend Eddy Nolan has kicked off the month of April with a run. In honour of his hero, he's made it his life's mission to raise awareness and money for cancer research. But now, in a symbolic gesture, he is choosing to honour Terry's legacy one last time as he prepares for his final journey. Global's Felicia Parrillo reports – Apr 10, 2024

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note the passing of Eddy Nolan at 2:35 p.m. on Friday, April 12, 2024.

On Wednesday, Eddy Nolan received a very special and sentimental gift.

A handwritten letter from Terry Fox’s younger brother, Darrell, and a shirt from the very run Terry Fox organized before it went down in history as the Marathon of Hope.

Nolan first fell in love with running when he saw the image of a young Terry Fox running across Montreal’s Jacques-Cartier bridge in 1980.

Every year since then, he has run in honour of Fox and has carried on his vision to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

In a move to spread Fox’s inspiration far and wide, he would speak about him wherever he could, including at a Montreal-area school where he worked as a caretaker for decades.

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Nolan retired and got sick but he went on to spread that message to thousands of children in other schools across the Greater Montreal area, running every April on the date the Marathon of Hope began and then again every September for the traditional Terry Fox Run.

Click to play video: 'Terry Fox’s family and Montreal community honour marathoner Eddy Nolan'
Terry Fox’s family and Montreal community honour marathoner Eddy Nolan

The Terry Fox Foundation estimates he’s helped raise well over $1 million for cancer research.

“So many times in schools, I would give a talk to kids and they’d ask me a question: ‘Did you ever meet Terry Fox?’ And I never did. Terry was my hero,” said Peter Sheremeta, the foundation’s international run director and Nolan’s longtime friend.

“But I met Eddy Nolan, and I got to work with Eddy Nolan. And I have always considered Eddy to be the embodiment of Terry Fox and what Terry stood for.”

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What made Nolan and Fox even more alike is that Nolan, too, has struggled with cancer.

In 2011, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer.

Later on, countless surgeries and treatments and a severe knee injury finally got in the way of his running.

Click to play video: 'The inspiring journey of a Montreal man running in honour of Terry Fox'
The inspiring journey of a Montreal man running in honour of Terry Fox

Last fall, Nolan was forced to stop, and he crossed the finish line for the last time.

Now the 67-year-old has requested a medically assisted death.

“I’ve been active all my life. I’ve run marathons, 65 marathons, 43 years for Terry,” Nolan said. “I’ve been a boxing champion five times when I was younger. I feel like I’m 90 years old. And so basically the decision was based on my quality of life. I don’t feel I have it.”

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Eddy Nolan and his wife Mary on April 10, 2024. Felicia Parrillo/Global News

Eddy’s wife, Mary, has been by his side for 29 years, through countless marathons and health issues.

They said their final goodbyes on Friday, April 12.

Nolan said he specifically requested that day as one final salute to his hero — the same day Fox started the Marathon of Hope 44 years ago.

“I’m in a lot of pain in my body,” Nolan said, explaining his decision. “And it’s like Terry Fox once said in 1980, somewhere the hurting must stop and I want mine to stop.”

Nolan passed away at 2:35 p.m. on Friday, but not before doing one last run for Terry down the hospital corridors.

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In lieu of flowers Mary is requesting donations be made in Eddy’s memory to The Terry Fox Foundation.

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