Meet the Runners
Allison is not alone in her fight. Together, we are running in support of Allison.
Since Allison received her diagnosis a year 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 the 2020 DUNN With Cancer run. We encourage anyone who will be running with Allison this September to share your story with us (or reshare the story you told last year) by contacting us directly.
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.
On September 18th 2021, 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.
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. There were relay games, spud, laffy taffy, the list can go on and on. 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. Last year I shared that the most I had previously run is whatever is required for you to pass high school gym class. I can’t claim to have run the entire 5k last year, but there was definitely equal parts running and walking, maybe a slight edge on the running side. 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.
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 18th, and for the rest of my life, I’m going to run for Allison.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
do you want to run with Allison?
That Dam Hill will take place in Springbank Park, London, ON on September 18th, 2021.
There will be a 5km Run/Walk in memory of Allison (at no cost), in addition to a spectator BBQ. 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)
- 5km race
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.