Michael J. Fox originally became famous in the 1980’s for his acting in many films and television shows, including Back to the Future, Family Ties, and Spin City.
Canadian-born in Edmonton, Michael grew up in Burnaby, where he went to high school before moving to Los Angeles to become an actor. Since he was still a teenager when he left Canada, he didn’t actually finish high school at Burnaby South Secondary School. In 1995, the theatre attached to this school was named after him: The Michael J. Fox Theatre.
In 1991, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and finally had to stop full-time acting in 2000. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, which leads to loss of cells in the brain. As a result, people with this disorder lose their coordination of movement and develop tremors.
Determined to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease, Michael started the Michael J. Fox Foundation, where extensive stem cell research is being done. Through this foundation, more than $120 million has been raised in the hope of eventually resulting in a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
On May 22, 2008, Michael J. Fox was honoured at the Chan Centre at UBC. He was awarded an honorary law degree. In Latin, an honorary degree means “for the sake of honour” and is an academic degree given to someone who has done something very important to help society. A person who receives an honorary degree does not attend classes or write exams at that university. At the convocation ceremony, Michael was called our “hometown hero.”
When he spoke at the ceremonies, he said, “No matter what path you take in life, remember that you have the opportunity every day, every moment to invent the future you want.”
(May 25, 2008)
(Includes all 2002 to date Weekly Features with descriptions)