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

WATCH ABOVE: A community is coming together to help a 94-year-old Second World War veteran achieve a major goal. Shallima Maharaj has their story.

A Barrie man has been immersed in a tireless quest for nearly four decades. Ninety-four-year-old Will Dwyer has been raising funds for the Terry Fox Foundation, and he is now honing in on the million-dollar mark.

On Saturday, a group of firefighters from CFB Borden will embark on a 20-kilometre trek to help him reach his target. They will also be joined by members from other nearby departments.

The journey will take them to the Barrie Cenotaph from the Borden Legacy Park war monument. A ceremony is slated to get underway at around 8:30 a.m., marking their departure from the base. In total, the walk is expected to take approximately six hours.

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Will’s son, Robert Dwyer, is the deputy platoon chief with the fire department. He will be among the firefighters walking for the cause.

“He’ll keep going until he finishes it, I know he will,” Robert told Global News on Thursday.

“There’s times where he gets too tired and I tell him I know when it’s time to stop… he says, ‘No, he’s still good.”

The fundraising journey began 39 years ago for his father.

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“Up to six months ago, he did it all on his own,” Robert said of his father’s efforts to fund cancer research.

“He was driving and self-sufficient, and this year unfortunately with his health issues I’ve come on board to help him get to a million.”

Will Dwyer lost his mother to cancer, and two years ago, he was diagnosed himself. His mobility is now more limited and he moves with the assistance of a walker or scooter.

“When I was in Germany, mother died — 51 with cancer,” the veteran said.

“I couldn’t get home, of course. And then I lost two sons.”

Will said he remains determined to see this cancer-fighting mission through, and intends to participate in some way on Saturday. Dwyer said he hopes the public will come out to see the walk and make a donation at the finish line. Those unable to be there in person can also make a donation online.

Martha McClew is the provincial director for the Terry Fox Foundation in Ontario. She told Global News longstanding contributors like Will are rare.

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“He has come to recognize, as we have, that these research projects – every one of them – push the needle forward,” she explained.

“He has never lost hope. He has always kept the faith and one day, I know that faith will come to pass for a cure for all cancers. So that million dollars is a gift from Will Dwyer. Every step that he takes is a gift.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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