93-year-old man aims to raise $1M for Terry Fox Foundation
Every September for the past 38 years, Will Dwyer undertakes his own version of the Marathon of Hope.
The 93-year-old Second World War veteran has made it his mission to raise a total of $1 million for the Terry Fox Foundation for Cancer Research "before the Good Lord takes me away."
Having lost his mother and many of his friends to cancer, Dwyer was inspired to become involved in the cause after watching Fox run the Marathon of Hope on television in 1980.
“I said ‘I can help out,’” Dwyer told CTV Barrie. “And I’ve been involved ever since.”
The mission became even more personal when one of his sons died from the disease 10 years ago. Two others currently have the disease.
Every year he heads out in the month leading up to the annual Terry Fox Run to get pledges for the foundation.
Last year he raised a total of $44,000, bringing his lifetime total up to almost $800,000.
Dwyer goes out almost daily, driving around the city to canvass different neighbourhoods on foot. He goes door-to-door, visiting almost every house.
“I can’t walk up any [house with] three or four steps, because I’m afraid I’d fall,” Dwyer said.
Though he never got the chance to meet Fox in person, his years of involvement in the organization allowed him to meet both of Fox’s parents, as well his brothers and sister.
Though Fox’s parents have since passed away, Dwyer says the organization still sends him a letter every year thanking him for his contributions.
As he gets closer to his goal, Dwyer says it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get donations. Though he has several repeat donors that he visits yearly, he’s found that many people have moved or passed away.
This year those difficulties were made worse by the hot weather in southern Ontario.
“It’s been a real hot summer,” Dwyer said. “I couldn’t do as much as last year.”
He expects that his total raised this year will likely be lower, having raised about $30,000 so far, unless significant donations are made before the run occurs Sept. 17.
Despite his advancing age, Dwyer isn’t concerned about reaching his goal before he has to retire from active involvement.
“If I don’t reach the goal and if I happen to pass away…Bob, my youngest son, he’s going to make sure that I reach that million,” Dwyer said.
“And I’ll have to come up out of the grave to thank him.”
With a report from CTV Barrie’s Krista Sharpe