Meet the Runners
Allison is not alone in her fight. Together, we are running in support of Allison.
Since Allison received her diagnosis three years ago, we have heard countless, incredible stories of how she has impacted the lives of those around her. Some of these stories were highlighted as part of previous DUNN With Cancer runs. We encourage anyone who will be running with Allison this September to share your story by contacting us directly.
Dianne McIntosh & the McIntosh Family
When my family and I met Allison she was a spirited smart preschooler … I knew she would be a force to be reckoned with then! She grew up to be a dauntless beautiful young woman with a smile that went on and on. Allison had many dreams which she acted upon and passion for many things.
One of my favourite memories was meeting Allison and her mom for lunch shortly after she returned from working in India. She told fascinating stories about the beauty of the country and its people, and was proud of her time spent spreading the idea of literacy among women and children. Allison continued to be a very successful working philanthropist in Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo for the rest of her life.
Allison was the first of my friends’ children to have a baby, so I was really excited when she invited me to meet William for the first time. She was so capable and loving, and of course she welcomed two more beautiful children, Maxwell and Madison, into the family. Allison was both a hardworking professional and an awesome mom!
I’m not a runner, but I walk the route alongside my family every year. We wholeheartedly support Dunn With Cancer as a means to honour Allison, and raise money and awareness for the Brain Tumour Foundation with the hope that someday there will be help for those suffering from this terrible disease.
Marty Goldbach & Heather Hiscox
Why do we participate in the Dunn with Cancer Run every year?
Quite simply, to honour a spectacular young woman whom we loved, and lost far too soon.
We remember Allison for her spirit, her vitality, her brilliant smile, and above all, her commitment to making life better for others. She truly wanted to change the world. She was well on her way to doing just that, through her community work in Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, when she received her devastating brain cancer diagnosis.
Marty will never forget visiting Allison in the hospital, the night before her surgery, and the hug they shared as he left. It said everything about her strength, her determination, and her hope that the doctors would have good news -- that she would have more time for her projects, and especially, for her three beautiful children.
Of course, we know that was not to be.
Today, Allison’s legacy lives on through her family, whom we are fortunate to call dear friends. Wayne and Diane, Andrea and Matt, and Brian and Katie continue to build Dunn with Cancer, to support brain tumour research. They are working tirelessly to raise awareness, and most importantly, to raise money. The Dunn’s hope – no, they believe – that science will, one day, find a cure. When that happens, that will truly change the world.
Just as Allison would have wanted.
One Step at a Time:
June 2021 my dad was playing hockey, boating, and running. He was a healthy and active retired doctor. One month later our world changed forever when Dad had what appeared to be a seizure. Fast forward a few days and several tests later, and we received the devastating news – Stage 4 Glioblastoma. Just after celebrating his 12 months post-diagnosis…my dad passed away July 29th, 2022. As I come up on almost one year without my dad, I continue to search for ways to keep his memory living on. Before my dad got sick, we used to run together. We had talked about running what would be my 5th half marathon together once I was healed after having my 3rd daughter. Although physically running with my dad is no longer possible, I am committed to running it alone but with him in spirit.
I knew my 5th marathon needed to be in support of Glioblastoma research and with some careful searching, I landed on the PERFECT run… Alison’s! I read Alison’s story and it really resonated with me because I am also a mother of 3 children, my youngest daughter - like Alison also named Madison. I empathized with Alison’s family and can only imagine the pain of personally receiving the diagnosis as a young mother.
Running can be good therapy. So, we all continue to take one step at a time, and we all move forward (but never on) with those we love watching over us
Running in Memory of my Dad: Dr. Neil Kevin Barber, for Allison, and for all those battling this horrible disease.
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 appreciation in everything you have taught me - the strength, caring and determination that you live by every day, how you make everyone around you better and how you positively impact the people and causes you touch.
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.
Allison and I 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 went on countless runs and walks together in multiple countries. Our friendship grew through running and it is now one of the ways I feel most connected to her.
Everyone knows that Allison was the kindest and most loving human being and would do anything to help her family, friends, or even strangers. She was a community-oriented person and a leader in everything she did. The Dunn with Cancer Run is an opportunity for Allison's community to come together, to honour her, and to raise awareness and funding to support brain cancer research, which will bring us one step closer to the Dunn with Cancer goal of living in a world where glioblastoma is treatable and, eventually, curable.
I look forward to running again for Allison and to being part of this movement of hope. 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.
Diana Balcarras Berg
I vividly remember the day Allison and I met. We connected immediately and our conversation flowed with comfort and ease. A unique, rare and unexpected friendship blossomed that day into a beautiful relationship rooted in respect, trust and love. We dug into the “messy middle” of life where we could live life together and accept each other just as we are. We started exercising together during maternity leave as an excuse to mix a much-needed social time with exercise and a playdate! Truthfully, for me, the best part of this time was the deep connection it fostered between us as we navigated the ups and downs of daily life. Together with our friend, Kristen, the 3 of us would joke that through our discussions we were “solving all the world's problems”. For us, sometimes the “world's problems” were potty training, temper tantrums and sleep training. Other times it was supporting each other through difficult life decisions and navigating illness. One thing is certain, we never ran out of things to talk about - we only ran out of time. I am running to help ensure that others also don’t run out of time too soon. I am honoured to run for Allison as we help to solve another one of the “world's problems” together.
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 text me back or see the pictures I had sent her clearly. For me, running became much more. Since then, and until this day - it is one of the best ways that I can clear my head and connect with her and in some way show her that I am doing something for her.
On September 16th, and for the rest of my life, I’m going to run for Allison.
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 :)
12 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.
Last year at the Dunn with Cancer run I ran another half marathon in honor of Allison. This year I will be running 5k. Allison continues to motivate and inspire me, even in the toughest of times.
Allison, this run is for you.
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.
Allison was one of my closest friends. Her energy and passion for life was contagious since the day I met her during first year university. I've had some of my best memories in life with her by my side.
Our shared love of running was one of many things we had in common. Running through Waterloo subdivisions, Toronto streets, and the Boyds’ cottage are all places we’ve been together.
Running is a way I continue to feel connected with her and keep her alive in my heart. The energy and strength shown by her family, friends and community at last year’s race reminds me how much of a positive impact she’s had on so many lives. I’m looking forward to running again and being a part of the fight for a cure.
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. But what was 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. But just like the past three years, I am sincerely looking forward to taking part again with all of you in September. You won’t find me in any of the timed or marathon races, but I will be on the course walking and running. And I vow to be one of the loudest members of the cheering section for the other racers. Just like Allison, who was a cheerleader for so many, always pushing them towards being their best.
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 ~
This is my 3rd year I’ll be running in support of the Dunn with Cancer team. This race marks my 50th Half Marathon race and in running it, I’ll think of Allison. I’ll know that I’m fortunate to having been racing for over 35 years, longer than Allison’s much too short life. I’m doing what I love – running - to raise money for the Brain Tumour Foundation as my part in this fight against cancer, so that maybe, just maybe, someone else’s child, sibling, parent, loved one or friend can be cured.