Friday 24 January 2020

Get on your bike and support cancer research by signing up to the CROSS Rugby Legends Cycle

Former Ireland and Lions rugby player Paul Wallace and CEO of BidX1 Stephen McCarthy (far right) celebrate the donation of €120,000 to The Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute along with researchers Dr Maria Davern and Dr Noel Edward Donlon. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland
Former Ireland and Lions rugby player Paul Wallace and CEO of BidX1 Stephen McCarthy (far right) celebrate the donation of €120,000 to The Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute along with researchers Dr Maria Davern and Dr Noel Edward Donlon. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

Cancer has affected households all across Ireland, but one charity is fighting back with an annual fundraiser that has already raised close to €1million for vital cancer research.

The ninth annual CROSS Rugby Legends Cycle takes place on September 3-5, 2020, and members of the public are already being encouraged to sign up for this fantastic event. The cycle is organised by Friends Of CROSS, who support the Trinity College St James’s Cancer Institute.

The annual event grew out of an initial idea to do a charity cycle from Mizen Head to Malin Head in aid of the researchers at Trinity and St James. The participation of some Irish rugby legends helped to raise its profile and generate a buzz around the inaugural event.

“About 40 of us did that first Mizen to Malin cycle, headed up by Friends Of CROSS patron Paul Wallace and his brothers, David, Richard and Henry,” recalls Friends Of CROSS Chair, Aidan Murphy. “Over the years it grew into a very successful fundraiser.”

Now a three-day event, the annual cycle has attracted plenty of rugby legends over the years including former Australian captain, Phil Kearns, former South African captain, John Smith, England’s Mike Tindle, and Irish stars Gordon Darcy, Paddy Johns and more. It has also attracted big names from GAA and other sporting stars as it’s grown. 

The CROSS Rugby Legends Cycle has a devoted community of participants that includes many cancer survivors and people who have been affected by it. Donal Walsh, the Kerry teenager who fundraised tirelessly for cancer after being diagnosed with the disease, took part in an early cycle and his father Finbarr continues to support the cause.

“Donal was on the second cycle that we did and unfortunately he passed away a couple of months after that. We’ve had some very powerful and emotional days on the cycle.”

However, there are also many uplifting stories of hope among the participants.

“When you’re cycling beside somebody who is either in remission or who has recovered from cancer, that for me is progress in research. We can’t say that we’re directly responsible for that but we’re doing our bit.”

BidX1 came on as a lead sponsor for this year’s three-day cycle, which featured three separate routes that started and finished in Westport. The €120,000 raised was presented by The Friends Of CROSS to Trinity St James Cancer Institute, at a special event on Friday.

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Friends Of CROSS patron Paul Wallace pictured with James Morrison, Aidan Murphy and Iarla Mongey at the 2019 BidX1 Cross Rugby Legends Cycle in Westport

Aidan Murphy says he is delighted to announce that BidX1 are confirmed as the main sponsor for the 2020 tour.

“We are hugely grateful to Steve McCarthy and his partners in Pollen Street Capital for their continued support of this great event.”

Aidan explains that their goal is to help Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute invest in the cutting-edge research equipment and training needed to save even more lives. The number of newly diagnosed cancers is increasing by 7pc annually and this number could double in 20 years if this trend isn’t reversed.

The money raised by the CROSS Rugby Legends Cycle supports the training and development of brilliant medical and science students working in cancer research in Ireland.

“The money the Friends Of CROSS raises goes directly to the cancer research team in Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute,” Aidan explains.

“To date, 80pc of the funds we’ve raised have gone to equipment. State-of-the-art researchers need state-of-the-art equipment, but they do not get the funding to get that. That’s where we come in.

“The €120,000 we presented to them on Friday has already been allocated to the latest tumour analysis equipment and whatever other equipment they require in their quest for the fight against cancer.

“The other 20pc of funds goes towards biobanking activities. This is where, with patient consent, tissues and blood are used on an ongoing basis to keep building the knowledge for future research as well.

“These guys are at the forefront and we’re doing our little bit to hopefully grow that over the next few years so that they have absolutely every piece of research equipment that they require.”

In addition to raising funds, the CROSS Rugby Legends Cycle works to raise awareness and education around cancer prevention. Their local outreach initiative is also building a community across the country to support Friends Of CROSS and to provide emotional and professional support for people affected by cancer.

One of Friends Of CROSS’s next goals is to support an education-based programme developed by the Trinity St James Cancer Institute that will keep the top researchers in Ireland by developing a cancer research hub in this country.

“Progress in research is making a difference,” says Aidan. “In coming on the cycle, you’re directly supporting these top tier researchers in the fight against this dreadful disease. By doing your bit and turning up to do the cycle, you’re improving your own fitness, so you’ll get the health benefits, the emotional benefits, the community buy-in and you’re contributing directly to some of the best researchers we have.”

Registration for the event will open in the new year and Friends of CROSS will also be hosting a fundraising ball in the Mansion House on March 27. For more information and updates, check out the CROSS Rugby Legends Cycle website or their Facebook page.

Join Friends of CROSS to celebrate the ninth annual CROSS Rugby Legends Cycle which kicks off on Thursday, September 3-5, 2020. Taking in the stunning rivers, lakes and mountains of Ireland, dust off your cycling helmet and get involved to help raise funds for CROSS Charity and join the fight against cancer.

Sponsored by FriendsOfCross

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