A Barrie, Ont. man is determined to raise $1 million for the Terry Fox Foundation and firefighters from a nearby armed forces base have decided to help him reach his goal.
Will Dwyer, 94, a Second World War veteran, has raised $920,000 for the foundation over the past 39 years.
Next Saturday, a group of firefighters from CFB Borden, including his son Robert Dwyer, will walk 20 kilometres from a war monument on the base, northwest of Toronto, to the Barrie cenotaph to raise money. Some crew members will wear full protective gear. Robert Dwyer is the department's deputy platoon chief.
"It's wonderful," Will Dwyer told CBC Radio's Fresh Air. "It's a lot of work for them as well. They have to put on all of this gear and walk."
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman has promised to join the August 24 walk in a pledge of support for cancer research.
Dwyer, who lost his mother to cancer when he was young, said he will take part in Saturday's walk, at least for part of it. To get around, he uses a walker, cane and scooter. He is expected to appear at the end of the walk at the Barrie cenotaph.
"I'll try. Not saying I'm going to do it all, but I will try," he said.
Dwyer began raising money for the Terry Fox Foundation after Terry Fox stopped his Marathon of Hope run in September 1, 1980 because cancer had spread to his lungs.
Dwyer said he was impressed by what Fox, raised in Port Coquitlam, B.C., was trying to do and it was then that Dwyer set his sights on raising $1 million.
"He was struggling on that one leg. And when he was finished, I said, I can help Terry raise some money. When he got back to B.C., I started right away," he said.
"It was small amounts sometimes but it grew as years went by. And I kept going."
Son say father raised $98K last year alone
Robert Dwyer, of the Base Borden Fire Department, said his father has been less mobile in the last six months, his health has been deteriorating and two coworkers thought it would be a good idea to help him reach his goal through a fundraising walk.
Dwyer said he was 19 when his father started raising money. "I said, good luck with that."
Then seven years ago, when his father's fundraising had reached more than $630,000, the younger Dwyer realized the full million was within reach.
He said his father raised an average of $40,000 to $50,000 a year, and last year, he raised $98,000.
"That inched him closer. He's going to make it. I have a funny feeling it's going to be this year," he said.
In a news release, the fire department said it hopes people will join the crew at the end of the walk at the cenotaph and donate funds there. People, organizations and corporations can also donate directly to the Terry Fox Fund in Will Dwyer's name.
"We have lots of people reaching out that want to participate," Robert Dwyer said.
The walk, which will begin at the Borden Legacy Park war monument, North Gate at CFB Borden, will proceed rain or shine.