As a veteran triathlete, and local attorney, Patrick Dwyer, already had 30 years and 11 Ironman race experiences under his belt when he was sidelined by a devastating knee injury in 2016. Three years later, Dwyer, a founding partner at the law firm Dwyer, Spino, & Goncalves LLC, was inspired to take on the challenge again to raise funds and awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children-Boston. However, what was to be Dwyer’s triumphant return to the Ironman course in support of Shriners patients would become his own story of perseverance, resilience, and redemption.
“After my injury, I had to undergo a major surgery and endure a long recovery before I felt ready to compete again and what I learned is that whether it’s a burn or a cleft palate, many Shriners patients have to undergo not one surgery, but multiple surgeries throughout their lifetime,” said Dwyer. “The treatments they receive, like skin grafts, don’t actually grow with them, so throughout their childhood they are constantly in and out of the operating room. It made me think of my own kids and I realized how important it was for them to see me support a cause like this, and to have them watch me cross the finish line.”
With a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run, it isn’t any wonder that an Ironman Triathlon is widely considered to be one of the most difficult single-day sporting events. Armed with the motivation he needed, Dwyer, began the rigorous training regimen not only with the full support of his law firm but also with the blessing of his wife and children, now 6 and 7. He set his sights on his race: Ironman Lake Placid.
After a year of fitting training around his life at home and busy law practice, race day finally arrived on July 28, 2019. After making it through the swim, Dwyer was nearly 80 miles into the bike course when he felt a muscle cramp tear across the largest muscle in his leg, and he knew he was in trouble. By the time he transitioned off his bike and into the marathon run, he was in bad shape. He made it two miles before he made the difficult decision to drop out. But he didn’t want his training to go to waste, and he wasn’t ready to give up.
Thankfully, there was still space in the Ironman Mont Tremblant in Quebec a mere three weeks later. In the end, Dwyer put together a solid day as his wife and kids cheered him on, and with a final time of 9:55:19 placing him fourth out of 372 in his division and 65th overall, he qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. While the windy conditions he faced in Kailua-Kona made the whole race far from easy and despite feeling dizzy around mile 20 of the run, Dwyer was able to dig deep and finish strong with a final time of 10:49:00, and placing 172nd out of 399 in his division at the World Championship.
“The first time I raced in Kona, I have a video of me high-fiving my Dad as I was coming into the finish line, so it felt fitting to have videos and photos high-fiving my kids finishing Lake Placid ten years later,” said Dwyer. “You always want to teach your kids the value of hard work and persistence, and you want to raise them to do good in the world. I was happy they saw that even though it was hard, it was all okay in the end and they saw what we were able to do to raise money for a good cause like Shriners.”
Dwyer wrapped up his fundraising campaign and the plan was to host a ceremony to present his donation. Little did the world know, a global pandemic would upend our 2020 and completely reshape any vision we had for the year. Even with the coronavirus pandemic changing the format to be more socially-distant, Dwyer and his fellow partner attorneys were able to present Shriners with a donation of $20,000.