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Volunteers kick off 41st annual Terry Fox Run

Horns honked and people cheered for volunteers and supporters of the Barrie’s Terry Fox Run this Sunday.

Horns honked and people cheered for volunteers and supporters of the Barrie’s Terry Fox Run on Sunday.

Although the committee was unable to host a large in-person event due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, committee chairperson Marilyn Nigro said they felt it was important to at least have a presence downtown, where the annual event is typically held.

“We were asked not to create anything that would gather crowds so we decided we would just have a presence today at Barrie’s waterfront just so people could still come by and get their stickers, t-shirts and to say hi to Will (Dwyer) and make a donation,” she said.

Nigro has been participating in the local run for several years, however this is her first year heading up the committee. Despite this year being a virtual run, she said things have gone very smoothly. 

“A lot of people on this committee have been doing this for 20 years. It’s really easy to be the chair when you have such an amazing committee,” she said, adding she has always believed in what the Terry Fox Foundation stands for. “I always believed in the cause. I was at an age when Terry ran through our country (that) he had an impact on me…and more recently because my husband had cancer and survived thanks to the research they’re doing.”

Barrie senior Will Dwyer has been participating in the Terry Fox Run since 1981. He had set himself a goal to raise $1 million - a milestone he reached in 2019. He is now on a mission to raise another $1 million - and is already well on his way, having raised upwards of $200,000 in the last two years, noted his son Rob Dwyer, who kicked off his father’s fundraising campaign in May while he was in the hospital. Will has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, which has since spread to his ribs and lymph nodes. 

This year’s fundraising, added Will, is going well - to date he’s raised close to $40,000 - but he’s far from finished. 

“We’d like to see those big wigs, those millionaires and trillionaires throwing in some money,” he told BarrieToday.  “I want to get rid of this cancer. We’ve got to wipe it out. Terry said, when he couldn't go on, that somebody else had to pick it up, and so I did.”

Things are heating up now, added Rob, noting over the last few days online donations have been coming in constantly.

“It’s incredible. When I take him around and see the response from the people who’ve pledged him for 40 years … it’s unbelievable the reception he gets .. and for him to keep going, with the health issues he’s had and the cancer he’s had for the last three years that I’ve known  about although  I am sure he had it before that and just didn’t tell his family.”

Randy Greengrass estimates he has raised close to $20,000 over the years through his participation in the Terry Fox Run.

Now 44, Greengrass knows just how important Terry’s mission was, having undergone cancer treatment himself as a young child. When he was 18 months old, Greengrass was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, which at the time was considered to be a rare form of cancer.

“I was treated at Sick Kids in Toronto when Terry Fox ran through. I want chemotherapy to get much better and the only way to do that is through fundraising. I’ve lost my dad and I just lost my mom last year (to cancer) but I also have friends who are thriving and doing well, even though they’re on chemo treatment,” he told BarrieToday. “Everybody has a cancer story within their own family. Cancer research does save lives, so the best thing you could do today is to help save lives.”

While this year’s participants may not have a large crowd to help inspire them to get moving, Nigro said it’s still a great opportunity to get outside, get moving and help raise money for an important cause over the next few weeks. 

“Just get out there and go for a walk with your family, go for a bike ride, rollerblade or whatever it is. While you’re walking, maybe talk about the impact that Terry has had on our country.”

About the Author: Nikki Cole

Nikki Cole has been a community issues reporter for BarrieToday since February, 2021
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