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WATERLOO — A Denver couple battling cancer cashed in on the “memorial experience of a lifetime” after a Courier article shed light on their struggles and their wonder for aquatic animal life.

Bob and Dawn Gwin spoke to the Courier in January about their stage 4 cancer diagnoses. The bubbly couple also discussed their goals for the year, which included visiting the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The news story caught the eye of Johnny Ford, assistant director of guest experience at the Shedd Aquarium, who offered the couple complimentary tickets, a private guided tour and a chance to feed a penguin named Chile and a blind sea lion named Cruz.

“We had the best time, and we made a lot of great memories,” Bob said. “We even had a private Pacific white dolphin show with four dolphins. While we were interacting with Chile the penguin, two white beluga whales were watching us. We also hand-fed cownose sting rays.”

“Colby (Sellers) gave us a private guided tour and made it the most memorable experience of a lifetime,” the couple said in an email. Sellers guided the couple through the 5-million-gallon aquarium that was at one time the largest indoor aquarium in the world.

The Gwins also reconnected with Bob’s former U.S. Navy shipmate, who caught wind of the Gwin’s article in the Courier. The couple spent the weekend with Danny Lakin and his wife, Katie. Bob Gwin and Lakin were hospital corpsmen stationed at the Great Lakes in Illinois together during Gwin’s service from 1989-92.

Dawn was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in her ribs, spine, skull and liver in April 2020, and her husband, Bob, was diagnosed with terminal advanced metastatic stomach cancer in December 2020.

The couple are still undergoing chemotherapy weekly. After receiving their COVID-19 vaccines this year, the couple prepared to make their first trip outside of their home in Denver in a long while.

“We were touched that Shedd Aquarium was able to bring joy and hope as they were experiencing challenges in their lives,” Sellers said.

For more information or to donate, email, send mail to 221 Donna St. Apt. 1, Denver, 50622, or go to to

All money raised is used to help pay for the couple’s medical bills, utilities, rent and any medical supplies and equipment as their cancers progress.

This article originally ran on

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