Meet the Runners
Allison is not alone in her fight. Together, we are running in support of Allison.
I have a vivid memory of a cross-country race in high school. Allison was in grade 12, I was in grade 11. We were racing in Etobicoke and me, being in the Senior Men category, was the final race of the day. It was an especially tough course that featured "the Hill" - a mountain that doesn't need to go by any other name. The race was the hardest of the season.
Now, neither Allison or I would call myself the fastest on the team. Crowds that were focused on the lead pack were often packing up their tents when I was rounding the final corner. But not Allison. With less than 500 meters to go and no energy left in my tank, I remember seeing her standing in a dispersed crowd, waiting to cheer me on so energetically. And as I passed her, all Allison said to me was "see those two up there? Catch them." With that, I took a deep breath, put my head down, and did what she told me to do.
This is one of the countless stories that shows two of Allison's best qualities as a sister and as a friend. She cares so deeply about everyone in her life and pushes them to be better people. I've had many conversations with her friends and family on how strong of a fighter Allison is. But what is important to highlight is that her fighter mentality is often directed towards making the lives around her better.
So why am I running? Allison - It is hard to put into words how positively you've impacted my life. I am running this race with you in hopes that it begins to show my gratitude in everything you have taught me - the strength, caring and determination (stubbornness??) that you live by every day, how you make everyone around you better and how you positively impact the people and causes you touch.
Brian Dunn (brother)
Greg Boyd (husband)
After Allison's biopsy, she was in recovery in the hospital and our neurosurgeon (Dr. Matt Hebb) approached us with a request. He wanted to know if we would authorize him using a sample of the tissue from Allison's tumor for research purposes. His aim was to try to understand why and how this happened so that one day they could prevent it from happening to someone else. Without question, Allison and I signed off, wishing that maybe 5, 10, 15 years from now, families could count this as one of those diseases that you could treat, and perhaps even avoid altogether.
So I'm running because the research matters, and doctors need our support to fund their research. But I'm also running because of who will be there with me to run...our families and our kids, and each one of you who will accept the challenge.
Our community of support, when united, will raise some funds to support the research, and share some time, laughter and sweat together. I'd call THAT one way to beat cancer, and THAT is something that I want to be part of. I'll see you on race day.
Matt Trinnear (brother-in-law)
Why am I Running for Allison?
The answer is quite simple to me and there are 2 major reasons.
First off is running has been a common interest and passion that Allison and I have shared. Especially with the events happening in life at this time, running is the ONLY time it feels that I can clear my head and focus on specific things that matter the most. I LOVE the feeling right now of going for long runs and having so many thoughts and memories of Allison. I think about the countless runs we have attended together, but even the daily memories our family has had. A 100 km run is the perfect way to stay focused on Allison with something that we both love.
Secondly, just as everyone who knows Allison, I am inspired by her. Before this awful cancer journey, I was inspired by her passion for life, family and being the best woman and mother she could be. Now I am even more inspired by Allison in her fight and legacy she has left during this cancer fight. Allison is a fighter and I think the best way to honour her, is to personally challenge myself to a new level, which is running 100km. Whoever knows Allison knows she would be up for the challenge and will be there with us that day too.
Penelope Trinnear (niece, age 3)
I have always wanted to be like my Auntie Al. I think she is so cool and I like her outfits. I pick out my clothes everyday thinking about "What would Auntie wear?" I also like running with my daddy, and hope to be as fast as Auntie one day. I love her so much.
It’s impossible to say ‘no’ to Allison. She single handedly started my love of running!
When my youngest son was 6 months old, and my others were 2 and 4 years, Allison said “let’s do the 10km relay Race Around the Bay together. It’s no biggie. You’ll be fine” (even though I hadn’t run in several years!) She gave me only 4 weeks to train for a 10km. Ha! But somehow, I just couldn’t say ‘no’.
Well that was 3 years ago. She got me hooked and convinced me to sign up for the Toronto 1/2 marathon that fall (2017). Well, Allison ended up getting pregnant so I was on my own for that race. I had NO desire to do it on my own, but she gave me no choice in the matter. Again, I couldn’t say ‘no’ to her. My family came to cheer me on and guess who also surprised me?! Of course, Allison did! I had the greatest run!
We also talked all the time about doing a marathon together. Next year was the plan.... in preparation, Allison convinced me to join a running group on Monday nights. I am NOT a group runner, and didn’t want to...but again, I couldn’t say ‘no’! I ended up loving that time because I would bring all my issues and stresses from the week and Allison would help me talk through it, offering profound wisdom and insight.
It was when she cancelled going two weeks in a row in February because she was dizzy and had headaches that I knew something was wrong. The following week I drove her to meet Greg at her doctor’s office where she was told she had a tumour...
I’m running because Allison has been teaching me that saying ‘no’ to challenges rarely gets you anywhere in life. Allison is a fighter, determined and tenacious, so thoughtful and wise beyond her years. She doesn’t back down from a challenge - nor will I. Allison’s inspiration and legacy will far outlast her too-short life on earth.
11 years ago I found myself volunteering to run my first ever half marathon. At that point, I did not consider myself a ‘runner’ and had never run an organized race, or more thank 8k before. I ended up agreeing to this because Allison was unable to run this particular half marathon with her uncle (my dad) after planning to. I remember speaking with Allison about it and her encouraging me to do it. Wow, I was not prepared for 21k. What I took away from the experience, and what Allison taught me, is that you can do anything you put your mind to.
Here we are 11 years later, and while I have only done 10k runs since, I’m ready to give a half marathon another try for Allison. She continues to motivate and inspire me, even in the toughest of times.
Allison, this run is for you.
Here's the deal...Cancer sucks and affects almost everyone on the planet. Whether it's a loved one, a colleague or friend, cancer has this incredible ability to completely change your life in an instance.
I'm running because this awful disease needs to be conquered and destroyed. I'm running because Brian is one of my best friends and I can only imagine how this new reality will impact him and rest of the Dunn family. I'm running because together, we can do amazing things and beat this thing in our lifetimes. I'm running because Allison reminds me of my own sister and family and that I would do anything to make sure they are safe and healthy.
I'm running because I know the amazing people that work in Toronto and Ontario who are on the front lines fighting this thing every day and the support they need to keep the fight going! See you on the course :)
When we were kids Allison and Andrea were in charge of coming up with games and activities for all of the cousins to take part in during our get togethers. At a young age, Allison already had developed many of the traits that you all know her so well for; loving to spend time around family, organizing activities/events, and getting to be competitive at the same time. There were relay games, spud, laffy taffy, the list can go on and on. But most important was the time we all got to spend together.
I don’t claim to be a runner, it has never been something that I have liked or enjoyed, ever. The most I have run is whatever is required for you to pass high school gym class. But I am sincerely looking forward to taking part with all of you in September. You won’t find me in any of the marathon races, but I’ll be running and walking that day, and definitely be there to cheer the rest of you on.
So why am I running? To participate in an event with all of Allison’s friends, family and loved ones. To show Allison that she inspires me. To fight for a cure, to be a part of the solution.
Greg is my best friend. He and Allison are family to me. They are, and will remain, two of the most important people in my life.
There are a lot of reasons to love Allison. One of them being that she is really, really great to party with. She is so much fun to be around, is an excellent conversationalist, and has a singular way of making you feel like you’re the only person in the room when you’re with her.
I enjoy her company so much that when we’re hanging out, and she eventually retires for the evening, I implore her: “Dunn, what can we do?” As in: is there anything we can do to get you to hang out more? As if we are the reason that she is going to sleep, and not the fact that she just needs to go to bed at a reasonable time.
The truth of it is that I would do anything in order to hang out with her for a couple more hours. Every moment with her feels special. Now I find myself asking “what can we do?” in an entirely different context, but for exactly the same reason: to spend just a little more time with this incredible person.
Allison - we would do anything for you and your family, and I’m glad that one of the things we can do to show our love and support - for you and your loved ones - is one of the things you love: to run. We love you Allison and we will always be running with you.
Allison is my dearest friend and one of the most special people in my life. I have some of my best memories with her by my side. Allison’s energy and passion for life has been contagious since the day I met her. Her motivation to go after her goals is always something I’ve admired and I know that running a marathon has been one of those goals.
Our shared love of running is one of many things we have in common. Running through Waterloo subdivisions, Toronto streets, and the Boyds’ cottage are all places we’ve been together. When the babies started to arrive, we switched to long walks at our middle meeting point in Orangeville. Whether it’s running or walking, we always talk so much that we lose track of time.
Allison has been there for me countless times and even cheered me on during my first marathon (which is where this photo was taken). If running can help this fight then I will be there without question as I know she would be for me.
Allison and I met ten years ago while doing an internship with World Literacy Canada, a non-government organization with projects in Canada and in India. Allison and I, along with four more young Canadians, lived, worked, and ate all our meals together in Varanasi, India, for five months. Allison was working on projects with local women, writing a curriculum which included creating and maintaining healthy relationships, safe hygiene practices, and literacy. She was also enamoured with a variety of livestock and animals that lived in our community (cows, puppies, and most of all - the goats! She is a Capricorn after all!).
Allison ran every day, without fail, along the banks of the Ganges river…despite tons of mud, monsoons, flooding, crowds of people and animals, and extreme heat. She also practised yoga daily, bright and early, with a local elderly yogi. She lovingly called us, and the local children, “muffins”, and our friend Jenn and I still call Allison our “fruit explosion muffin”. Allison is feisty, full of spirit and she has the biggest heart of gold.
Allison’s tenacity, perseverance, and strength of character is nothing short of amazing. She is loyal, kind, intelligent, and gracious. When I attended her wedding to Greg in 2012, I felt I was in the presence of an angel.
We marched together in India for women’s rights. We will march/walk/run together in London, Ontario, for you Allison!
Allison, I admire you and I am here for you and your family always, You are so very loved.
Love, your cupcake, Laura xoxoxo P.S. Don’t forget to write! (This was something we said to each other each night in India before bedtime!)
Allison and I have always shared a love of running. In fact, like many other things she inspired my love of running. Our first runs together were on the River Shannon when we were on exchange at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Since then we have gone on countless runs and walks together in multiple countries. Our friendship grew through running and today 12 years later, Allison remains one of my best friends.
Everyone who knows Allison, knows that she is the kindest and most loving human being and would do anything to help her family, friends, or even strangers. Now, it is our time to help and show our support to Allison. On September 19th, I will be running a half marathon for Allison. Leading up to race day, I will be training with ‘my bob stroller’ (which Allison researched and insisted I get) and raising money to support brain cancer research and join in Allison’s fight against brain cancer.
I always loved “playing up” for my sister’s soccer team, and that’s how I met Allison. We would play together, the two younger call ups on our older sisters’ team. I don’t know about her, but I was always very nervous playing with those older girls, and immediately bonded with Allison. The next year, I was again playing up, but this time it was with a group of girls who were Allison’s age (a year older than me) and WAY cooler than me. The coaches made Allison and I captains. If it wasn’t for Allison’s warmth, humor and continued friendship, I would’ve been a nervous wreck trying to be a “leader” on that team. We became quite close in the years to come, and I always enjoyed biking to practices and carpooling to games with her. It’s been a long time since I have seen her, but, as my sister and hers remain friends, I have kept tabs on her from a distance through the years.
I am running the half marathon because I know what an incredible person she was in high school and who she has grown up to become. Because she was a wonderful, hilarious and kind friend to have when I felt pretty alone. Because I am a mother too, and because if there is anything that can be done to prevent this from happening to good people like Allison and her family in the future, I would like to try to help. I’m ready to have another go at that Dam hill we used to run during soccer training, for old time’s sake.
I was diagnosed with lung cancer in March of last year, had a lobectomy in April and started chemotherapy 6 weeks later. My last infusion was in August 2019. I consider Allison a fellow warrior in this fight with cancer. She inspires me to push myself harder everyday and to face any new challenge with the same fierce courage and determination she has shown.
I watched Allison grow into the beautiful young woman she is today and I’m thrilled to have been able to share in many a celebration with her and her family. Now I’m proud to participate in this event, in honour of Allison’s love of life, family and yes, running.
Karen & Brent Stief
As Allison’s aunt and uncle in London, we both are not runners, maybe a few 5km runs in all our 60 years. This year, Brent is going to train for the 5km run and I will walk 5km, hopefully with a few other non-runners by my side. We are participating because we want Greg, William, Maxwell and Madison to know and see how much Allison has meant to us these past 33 years. We are so proud of what she accomplished as a dedicated mom and wife, and yet found time to give back to those less fortunate in her community through her work and volunteering.
It will be up to all of us, who knew Allison, to shine her light upon her kids and let them learn and remember what a very special Mom they had. Raising money to fund research for brain cancer will drive scientists to find a more successful treatment and help families dealing with this same diagnosis.
The day I met Allison we ran a 100m race on the street. It was during the Summer Olympics and were trying to get a sense of how fast Usain Bolt’s winning time was. I recall losing to everyone but Alison never held it against me. After getting to know her that night I vividly remember thinking that Allison is an amazing person, so full of life and truly a force of good in this world. My relationship with Allison and her family has been intertwined with running and this event is a great way to pay homage to her inspiring life.
I am running to honour her memory. I am running to support her family and loved ones. I am running to fight the evil that is cancer and be part of the solution. Allison, this run is for you...
Allison has been my best friend and one of the closest people in my life for 20 years. She has been one of my largest sources of inspiration, strength, and fun, and I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with her. As you can read in many of the bios on this site – Allison was a driver, and pushed and motivated everyone around her to be their best self. In many cases, running or any sort of physical challenge sparked Allison’s competitive side and she quickly bonded who whomever she was with. I was never much into sports, and definitely not a runner. That was one of the few areas of our life that was opposite.
I had never run a day in my life – until April 2020. This is when I realized that I could make a difference, maybe not for Allison, but to raise funds and awareness and reduce the likelihood that another young mom would ever have to learn that they were going to die of brain cancer. This is when a fire sparked inside of me – it was the same time that Allison could no longer txt me back or see the pictures I had sent her clearly. For me, running became much more. It was the only way that I could clear my head and connect with her and in some way show her that I was doing something for her.
On September 19th, and for the rest of my life, I’m going to run the 5KM run for Allison.
I am running because Allison and I ran together - in high school cross country! And where we ran most often was Springbank Park, the very place of this incredible event. Although high school is now quite some time ago, Allison is someone you never forget. If 'best personality ever; positivity; and fun' had images in the dictionary, Allison's photo would be there. We ran at St. Thomas Aquinas (STA) high school and at STA we were the "Flames." Allison's flame burned so, so bright and will never burnt-out. I am also running because Allison authorized the use of sample brain tissue from her tumor for research purposes - so I am running for the importance of research. Love always, Kathryn ~
I got to know the Dunn family through work that Wayne and my husband do for the food bank. Although I only met Allison once, I saw the spark and pride in Wayne’s eyes many times when he spoke of Allison and her giving nature and accomplishments. When I heard about Allison’s love of running, I decided to run to raise money in the fight against brain cancer with the hope that in the future, the loss of the life of someone so young and vibrant can be prevented. I am running because I love running, so much so that my family teases that I plan vacations around races. I know how fortunate I am to have been running races for over 33 years, as long as Allison lived. I have never attempted to run for 24 hours before, but this challenge is nothing compared to that faced by those battling cancer.
I met Allison through soccer and have such fond memories of her and Andrea. I always looked up to the Dunn sisters. Allison ran like the wind and had such a kind, positive attitude, no wonder she was our team captain! When I heard the news and was connected to her story, it didn’t surprise me that she went on to spread such joy and love to the world.
I am running to support brain tumour research. I am running to allow Allison’s light to continue to shine. I am running because I to am a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister. I want her friends and family to see what an impact Allison had in her short 33 years of life. Even though we lost connection years ago she will always be my teammate.
I haven’t ran since prekids and since training for this run can feel Allison with me, pushing me and supporting me like the true captain she was.
“Mom, why do the best people die so soon?”
“When you’re in a garden which flowers do you pick first?
“The most beautiful ones”
This runs for you Allison!
do you want to run with Allison?
That Dam Hill will take place in Springbank Park, London, ON on September 19th, 2020. As the Covid-19 situation continues to be fluid, we have implemented the following safety measures to ensure we are adhering to social distancing guidelines:
There will be 5km Run/Walks at 2pm and 4pm in memory of Allison (at no cost), in addition to a spectator BBQ. We require you to sign up for these runs or if you will be a spectator, as all runs will be capped at 80 participants to ensure we adhere to social distancing guidelines. You can sign up for these runs here.
Timed races are available, which you can sign up through the That Dam Hill website. The timed races include:
- Half marathon, marathon (relay), 24 hour (relay) all starting in the morning (staggered starts)
- 5km race starting at 3pm
These races will also be capped at 80 participants, so please ensure you sign up through the That Dam Hill website.
We encourage anyone who is running with the Dunn With Cancer team to reach out to us to be featured on our Runners page. If you wish to be part of the team, please reach out to us directly.