Congratulations to Tonya Dreher, founder of the Hope for Gus Foundation

We are delighted to announce that Tonya Dreher has been named as the recipient of the 2022 Greg Farrell Award. Tonya will be presented with the Award during an online ceremony that will take place Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30 pm.The ceremony will also pay tribute to the other 2022 nominees, each of whom is doing inspirational work that is truly worthy of recognition.

Tonya Dreher, award recipient and Hope For Gus founder

This annual Award honors the life and legacy of Gregory (Greg) Rowland Farrell. Greg, who passed away in the spring of 2020, left an indelible mark on the fields of education, philanthropy and government. Among his many accomplishments, Greg was a founder of NYC Outward Bound Schools and EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) and the Executive Director of the Fund for the City of New York. The Award was established by a group of Greg’s former colleagues at NYC Outward Bound Schools, each of whom was inspired and nurtured by him. The group serves as the Award’s Selection Committee. Previous Award recipients include Pascale Florestal (2020)and Moses Ssenyonjo (2021).

In choosing Tonya from among a stellar group of nominees, the Selection Committee was especially inspired and impressed by the remarkable work she is doing to combat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a terminal disease her son was diagnosed with a dozen years ago. Like Greg, she is a relentless visionary who overcomes obstacles to get things done, always with conviction, creativity, and above all, compassion. She has been tremendously tenacious and entrepreneurial in her efforts — establishing, with her husband, Steve, the Hope for Gus Foundation to raise awareness and fund research for a cure or treatment for DMD. Soon after establishing the foundation,  Tonya launched her flagship fundraiser, “Everest to End Duchenne,” leading treks to Mount Everest base camp as a potent symbol of the physical limitations boys with Duchenne face. 

In ways similar to Greg, Tonya graciously lights sparks along her path to combat DMD. While organizing service projects in Kathmandu, she learned that boys with Muscular Dystrophy lacked an accessible home. Tonya organized a crowdfunding campaign among DMD foundations, individuals and organizations to raise the money needed to build a home so that the boys can live and learn in a safe environment. She is now working to raise funds to supply equipment, learning materials and technology so they can experience more freedom and continue their education despite the inaccessibility of schools. Likewise, upon learning of the lack of teachers and supplies at her guides’ village schools in rural Nepal, Tonya connected the village to an organization that funded the hiring of teachers and educational materials.

In addition, with echoes of Greg, who devoted a good portion of his latter years to lovingly tending to his wife who had developed Alzheimer’s disease, Tonya is a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s.

It is powerfully affirming to know that Tonya and her fellow nominees are carrying Greg’s legacy forward through their extraordinary work. We look forward to celebrating them in an online ceremony on Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30 pm.

The online ceremony will take place on Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30 PM EST.

This article was originally published on NYC Outward Bound.