Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Chronically Hurt

"I'm doing OK. I'm, very lucky to be alive. My voice has been affected. I have a problem with my balance, that's about it. I have no memory of the stabbing [in a home invasion] whatsoever. None. It's pretty awful. A really bad experience."
"I've had my ups and downs, I admit that. Things did happen and it's unfortunate but, it happened. No different from anybody's, my life has its ups and downs, you know?"
"Face it, I was famous and I was on drugs and I think that's what people wanted to hear at the time. A famous person falling down, that's what people want to hear."
"I wanted to do an honest film of my life. I'm, 50 years old now, I'm not a kid any more, right? I take the good with the bad. Maybe people will see the film and learn from it. It's not right, but it's what I went through."
"I was a regular, ordinary, average kid, whatever that means. Did a lot of water skiing, I was pretty athletic, I did a lot of skateboarding."
"My dad said that 'Your leg has to come off'. And I started laughing, 'Yeah, right, sure, that's funny, good one, thanks, Dad'."
"And I realized, holy s---, he's actually serious, right? Within ten days after that, my leg was off."
Steve Fonyo, Surrey, British Columbia
Ian Kerr via Hurt Ltd.
Ian Kerr via Hurt Ltd. Steve Fonyo in a still from ‘Hurt: The Steve Fonyo story.” Adrian Humphreys writes ‘[his] ups reach higher and his downs dip lower, his fall magnified by the degree of his exaltation, his struggles [are] more vivid because of his fame.’

Steve Fonyo might have started out in life as an ordinary kid, an average young boy, as he said, but there was nothing average or ordinary about this life after age twelve. Which was when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. At the very time when another young Canadian, Terry Fox, had famously refused to surrender to his own bout with bone cancer, though he too lost one of his legs and determinedly, with his prosthetic leg, began a cross-Canada run to raise both awareness and money to fund cancer research.

Terry Fox wasn't able to finish his run. His cancer returned and struck him down. His courage and his determination in the face of such a dread disease striking the vitally young and his refusal to do nothing about it himself, won him the hearts and minds of millions of supporters and admirers. In his turn Steve Fonyo took inspiration from Terry Fox's 1980 experience and emulated his run. Unlike Terry Fox, Steve Fonyo was able to complete his run in 1985, with fanfare and congratulations finally overtaking the original suspicion and derision.

"I got the idea from Terry Fox. I got the idea from him, I thought I'd try it out. I wanted to do something to help people and it turned out to be a success. That's really about it. I think the problem was I didn't get the proper guidance, maybe. I'm not sure. But what happened, happened. The main thing is now I'm clean and I'm very happy, and I got to look forward to the future", he said in an interview about the filming of a year in his life story, titled Hurt, set to be premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. And that's where he's heading. "I can hardly wait", he said.

His 14-month 7,924-kilometre run made him at the time a well-known Canadian hero. Since then he has ping-ponged from celebrity status to down-and-out drug user, petty criminal, and impecunious victim. The reality-TV reflection of a year-in-the-life-of-Steve-Fonyo will encapsulate the polarizing fascination of a life of pitfalls and pratfalls. And the ignominy that greeted his fame at times, the lack of lasting recognition of his self-sacrificing exploit.

PNG Merlin Archive
PNG Merlin Archive   When he passed Thunder Bay and crossed out of Ontario, beyond where Fox managed to make it, donations and crowds blossomed.

That, at the very place where on completion of his gruelling run, he had dipped his prosthetic leg into the Pacific, a life-size statue stands in commemoration, but it's not a memorial raised to his monumental effort, but one that captures the image of Terry Fox whose uncompleted goal still resonates in the minds of those who think of that young man's resourceful determination despite the difficulties he encountered, to establish that precedent.

In the year Steve Fonyo completed his run he was recognized by being awarded to the Order of Canada, the youngest person ever achieving that kind of fame. He was named Newsmaker of the Year. And then real life impinged. "The first couple of years I was a pilot, flying helicopters. After that I went back to university for a couple of years, working for a bank in Edmonton. And after that I came back from Edmonton to B.C." Where he found temporary part-time work as a mechanic. "And then somewhere around there I did about ten years of drugs."

By 1987 he had begun to amass a string of public notices, newspapers reporting that he was ticketed for speeding, then drunk driving, then assault, followed by fraud, perjury, and possession of a stolen vehicle, along with writing bogus cheques and using cocaine. By 2010 he was stripped of his Order of Canada. Other assault charges followed, these of a more intimate nature. And then, a home invasion occurred when he was beaten on the head, stabbed under his armpit and left for dead.

He's recovered now, after the coma he fell into. The beating caused some level of brain injury affecting his speech. But, other than being semi-homeless and facing criminal charges not yet resolved, he remains himself. And that 'himself' that Steve Fonyo is, has been captured in the documentary called Hurt. And he's picking himself up once again to either follow or forge ahead on the course of his life's journey.


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