This Second World War veteran has spent the past 40 years of his life raising money for cancer research in the Terry Fox Run, slowly getting closer to his goal of $1 million dollars.
Now, cancer has the 94-year-old in its sights, but Will Dwyer is not giving up.
Ahead of this month’s Terry Fox Run, Dwyer is going door to door in Barrie, Ont., trying to raise the final $40,000 he needs to hit his goal. As of Wednesday, he had raised $954,500 to go towards cancer research.
“94 Years Young — Help Will Raise a Million!” reads a post dedicated to Dwyer on the Terry Fox Foundation website.
“I just like to help people,” Dwyer told CTV News Channel.
But his drive to help has its roots in his family as well. Cancer took Dwyer’s mother, and two sons, as well as a nephew, who died at age 22. This blow came around the same time a young man named Terry Fox made Canadian history by attempting to run across the country despite his spreading cancer.
“(My nephew) had the same type of cancer Terry had,” Dwyer said. “I think he had it in the same leg, I think the right leg.”
Dwyer has never missed a Terry Fox run in 39 years, but this could be the last year he’s able to hit the track — he is now battling prostate cancer himself.
It’s getting harder for him to move.
His son Robert comes with him on his quest for donations, driving him around and helping him up the stairs of various homes so Dwyer can ring doorbells and speak to residents about his convictions. Robert told CTV News that at first he was skeptical about his father’s $1 million dollar goal, telling him, “good luck with that, Dad,” but he soon realized nothing would stop Dwyer: the 94-year-old has fallen several times while attempting to make his way to get donations.
“Broke two ribs, fractured my left arm,” Dwyer said nonchalantly. “It’s been hard to get around. But I’m getting there.”
His community is behind him. Earlier this summer, he organized a separate walk for cancer research called “We WILL Walk,” where he was joined by a group of firefighters from Base Borden, decked out in full gear. They walked for 20 kilometres to raise funds for the Terry Fox Foundation, collecting donations in bright red buckets.
The Terry Fox Run is on Sept. 15 this year, and a week and a half before that, Dwyer is just shy of his goal. He’s 95 per cent of the way there. And if he makes it, despite the odds?
“If I’ve reached a million dollars before the run this year,” Dwyer told CTV News Toronto in August, “I’ll try for the second million next year.”