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Son of legendary Terry Fox Run fundraiser filling big shoes

Robert Dwyer, son of the late Will Dwyer, collected more than $30,000 for this year’s event
Robert Dwyer stands alongside an image of his late father, Will Dwyer, who raised $1.1 million for the Terry Fox Foundation during his lifetime. Following Will's death in 2022, Robert has taken on the fundraising legacy.

Barrie resident Robert Dwyer has big shoes to fill when it comes to the Terry Fox Run, but he's making strong gains as he raises money for the foundation in the iconic Canadian's name and the fight against cancer.

Dwyer is the son of local fundraising legend Will Dwyer, who began his campaign to give to the cause more than 40 years ago.

The senior Dwyer ended up raising approximately $1.1 million for the charity before his death in May 2022 at age 96.

2019-09-12 Will Dwyer IM
The late Will Dwyer, who passed away in May 2022 at the age of 96, is shown in a file photo. | Ian McInroy for BarrieToday

Robert laced up his shoes and took part in this past weekend’s Terry Fox Run to continue those fundraising efforts.

“It was a good time out,” Robert told BarrieToday, as he raised more than $30,000 for this year’s run. “And there will be more (money) coming in."

In the meantime, the tally continues to rise. 

“I’ve tried to keep some things the same,” he added, “which would be knocking on the doors of his supporters and the bigger donors."

Will Dwyer was a well-known figure in the local community for his fundraising drive. He hit the $1-million mark in 2018. 

“I like to help people because there’s too many people out there with cancer,” he told BarrieToday at the time. Two of his seven children succumbed to the disease, as did his own mother at age 51. 

Some of the new efforts that son Robert has added to the campaign is the Will Dwyer Memorial Golf Tournament at CFB Borden, which happened back in June, the Base Borden Firefighter Boot Drive, and he followed that event up with the We “WILL” Walk Again fundraiser in August.

That event, which saw firefighters dressed in their full bunker gear, along with residents, friends and family, saw participants walk 22 kilometres from CFB Borden Legacy Park to Will Dwyer Park on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay in Barrie.

Robert says 110 people took part in that walk, with close to $4,600 being raised for the Terry Fox Foundation. His latest fundraising effort now has him asking the local community to help him out even more.

He has reached out to the Terry Fox Foundation of Ontario and to Simcoe County schools to ask if they would consider donating their fundraising totals to his late father's $2-million goal that he set out prior to his death.

The schools have taken notice, as 19 schools have shown interest so far, Robert said.

This fall, Simcoe County District School Board students and staff will continue their support for the Terry Fox Foundation through a variety of local events. The board's schools raised more than $250,000 as part of the 2022 Terry Fox School Run, putting the board’s fundraising total for the Terry Fox Foundation more than $4.5 million.

“The SCDSB has come together in support of the Terry Fox Foundation and the quest to conquer cancer for decades,” director of education John Dance said in a news release. “I am incredibly proud of our students and staff for their commitment to this important cause, and for surpassing such a significant fundraising milestone.”

Kevin Lamb

About the Author: Kevin Lamb

Kevin Lamb picked up a camera in 2000 and by 2005 was freelancing for the Barrie Examiner newspaper until its closure in 2017. He is an award-winning photojournalist, with his work having been seen in many news outlets across Canada and internationally
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