A father and son are cycling 2,768.4 miles (4,455.3 km) across North America to raise $10,000 for a children’s cancer hospital in Gaza.
Ciaran Flanagan, who is a member of St Joseph’s GAA club in London, will be joined for the challenge by his dad, Michael. They set off on 4 September to undertake the challenging and renowned Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR).
The GDMBR is a long-distance, off-road bicycle touring route between Banff, Alberta, in Canada and Antelope Wells, in New Mexico, USA. Their preparations for the “huge challenge” have included cycling the Ring of Kerry.
“The idea was initially a bit of craic. Since getting into cycling it’s something my dad has wanted to do and he’s been on to me for a while to do it with him. I always joked that I would,” said Ciaran.
“After doing the Ring of Kerry this year with relative ease, we both booked flights so there was no turning back!
“We’ll start in Vancouver and will try and hug the coast to get some of the nicest views on route, because I can’t see either of us doing it any time in the near future again.
“We haven’t set ourselves any specific time frame, but we’re going to try and clock up 50 miles a day. But we’ll adjust this over the duration.”
Ciaran was born in Corby in Northampton but moved to Tralee in Kerry when he was seven. He also has connections to Athea in Limerick and Lahinch in Clare, as well as Armagh.
The children’s cancer hospital is a privately funded project and will be the first public paediatric oncology/hematology department at the paediatric specialized hospital in Gaza City, fundraising for which is being led by the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF).
Hundreds of children in Gaza suffer from many different forms of cancer and suffer not only from the disease, but the restrictions on their movement for treatment outside of Gaza due to the Israeli and Egyptian-imposed sieges, as well as a lack of medicine and services within Gaza.
The goal of the PCRF is to emulate the building of the Huda Al Masri Pediatric Cancer Department. Locate in Beit Jala Hospital, which the PCRF built and opened in April 2013, it is now a centre of excellence for children in the West Bank.
The project will not only save the lives of children in Gaza and reduce their hardship and the suffering of their families, but also save millions of dollars a year for the Ministry of Health, who are referring patients outside for care that should be available locally.
Ciaran added: “The majority of people know the unnecessary suffering going on over in Gaza at the moment.
“It’s on the news most days and following some research into various charities based in the area I think this one stood out as some of the most vulnerable and in most need of urgent care. “As well as this cancer has played a big role in our lives with both of us having lost friends and family.”
St Joseph’s posted on the club’s Facebook page: “This is for a great cause… .well done Ciaran and good luck!”
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