September 9, 2019 3:06 pm
Updated: September 12, 2019 1:36 pm

94-year-old Barrie man surpasses $1M fundraising goal for Terry Fox Foundation

WATCH: Second World War veteran Will Dwyer has raised over $1 million for the Terry Fox Foundation. He said he's now hoping to reach $2 million.


A 94-year-old Barrie man surpassed his goal of raising $1 million for the Terry Fox Foundation, which supports cancer research, on Friday.

“It feels wonderful,” Will Dwyer told Global News. “It’s hard to say how I feel. It took me a long time, but I made it.”

The Second World War veteran started collecting funds 39 years ago after watching Terry Fox’s cross-country run that raised money to support cancer research.

“With all those people with cancer, seeing Terry out there trying to make money for cancer, help find a cure, I said: ‘I might as well get involved’ because Terry was struggling out there with his leg,” Dwyer said.

Will Dwyer at the Terry Fox flag raising in front of Barrie City Hall on Monday.

Global News/Daina Goldfinger

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Robert Dwyer, Will’s son, remembers when his father started raising money to support the cause.

“He did say he was going to raise $1 million, and I told him: ‘Good luck with that.’ But once he got to about $650,000, it kind of clicked in,” Robert, 59, said. “He’s more than there, and they’re still coming in. Pledges are still flowing in online and phone calls and mail with cheques.”

Will was in Germany when he lost his mother to cancer at 51.

“I lost two sons since then [to cancer] and I got prostate cancer,” he said.

Another one of Will’s sons has leukemia, Robert said, and his nephew had the same cancer in the same leg as Fox. Will’s nephew passed away at 22 in 1981.

READ MORE: 94-year-old Second World War veteran trying to raise $1M for cancer research

The 94-year-old said he’s been to every Terry Fox run in Barrie in his lifetime and that he’s received donations from all over.

Fourteen-year-old Summer Madronich has helped Will collect donations. She met Will through her mother, who is his massage therapist.

“She always told me (about) his fundraising and stuff so I just wanted to help him out,” Madronich said.

The 14-year-old said she met Will about five or six years ago and that she’s raised about $1,000 to $2,000 in total.

Summer Madronich, age 14, started helping Dwyer raise funds to support cancer research about five or six years ago.

Global News/Daina Goldfinger

“Every year for my birthday, I have gotten my hockey team, and we have had…a three-on-three game,” Madronich said. “I just ask for donations instead of presents and I donate it to his campaign.”

Last year, Madronich said she got schools in the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board to donate their Terry Fox funds to Will’s cause.

“Then it just kind of spread, and now a lot more schools are starting to get involved in it,” she said.

READ MORE: Institute unveils ‘Team Canada of cancer research’ in city where Fox began run 

Madronich said she’s lost three grandparents to cancer, and she wanted to help out someone in the community who was contributing to support cancer research.

“It’s just so inspirational,” she said of Will. “He never gave up so it’s just so good for him that he set a goal and got to it.”

Robert said his father was driving up until six months ago but that his health has taken a turn due to prostate cancer.

READ MORE: Oshawa Generals prospect battling cancer, determined to play again

“With him not driving, I’ve taken the time this year from April on to get him around, to get him to his regular customers,” he said.

Will said his next goal is to raise another $1 million for the Terry Fox Foundation.

“I’ll have a little rest and I get back on the road around the middle of May for the second million-dollar mark,” he said.

“It’s unbelievable, the people that came to my aid to help. I’m very, very happy.”

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