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Dublin: 22 °C Friday 7 August, 2020
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Good samaritan uses free time to train others to run and raise thousands for cancer charities

After Ken Campbell lost a “dear friend” to cancer he wanted to raise more awareness of the disease so set out training others for free to run and raise cancer awareness.

Ken Campbell standing far right with some of the Running Against Cancer group.
Ken Campbell standing far right with some of the Running Against Cancer group.

AFTER THE LOSS of his best friend to cancer, a Galway man came up with a plan to train others for free and help them get fit so they can take part in walks and runs and raise cancer awareness.

John Rowe passed away on March 16, 2007. “He was a dear, dear friend of mine,” said Ken Campbell from Ballinasloe, Co Galway. “He found a lump and ignored it and so I wanted to raise people’s awareness to make them think, ‘If I find something I need to get this checked straight away’.”

In 2010, Campbell ran his first marathon and raised money for the East Galway Cancer Support Centre.

“The first year I was all on my own. Then two friends joined me, Aidan Sheridan and Daithí Hynes. Now we have 40-odd members and Running Against Cancer (RAC) Ballinasloe just sort of grew.”

Healthier lifestyle

The whole concept of RAC is to promote cancer awareness and encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. All training sessions are free of charge and are open to everyone regardless of ability, age or gender.

Campbell trains the group three times a week at the Dunlo Running track in Ballinasloe town. They practice for all sorts of events including, walks, runs, marathons, endurance tests, triathlons and iron man competitions.

“The beauty about RAC is there’s no pressure. Whether you are a walker or a sprinter, if you don’t want to do an event you don’t have to,” he explains.

“We have women who said ‘they wouldn’t run to the toilet’ when they first started. Now they are competing in 5km and 10km events,” he added.

Raising money

One of the most prominent ways of raising cancer awareness for RAC is through their trademarked t-shirts. “We have around 60 t-shirts out there now and they’ve been worn in everything from the Athlone Half Marathon, the Portumna 100km, the Dublin City Marathon to the New York Marathon.”

“It’s not about fundraising, it’s all about cancer awareness. We don’t fundraise, we facilitate runs and events. What we do is set up the run and help organise it. Sometimes we give out sponsorship cards but it’s entirely up to the participant to raise money if they wish.”

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RAC members have taken part in 15 events so far this year and around 20 last year. The group also host their own run once a year. The RAC five mile took place in May and raised €2,836 for the East Galway Cancer Support Centre. They also facilitated the Running for Lily-Mae event in Galway, which raised €8,000 for her care.

Campbell said he doesn’t mind giving up this time for free, “If I did I wouldn’t do it”.

Here are pictures of RAC Ballinasloe in action:

Good samaritan uses free time to train others to run and raise thousands for cancer charities
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  • Running Against Cancer Ballinasloe

    (Pic: Running Against Cancer/ Facebook)
  • Running Against Cancer Ballinasloe

    (Pic: Running Against Cancer/ Facebook)
  • Running Against Cancer Ballinasloe

    Ken Campbell started RAC after losing a "dear friend" to cancer. (Pic: Running Against Cancer/ Facebook)
  • Running Against Cancer Ballinasloe

    (Pic: Running Against Cancer/ Facebook)
  • Running Against Cancer Ballinasloe

    Standing out in their bright RAC t-shirts that raises cancer awareness the group warm up. (Pic: Running Against Cancer/ Facebook)
  • Running Against Cancer Ballinasloe

    Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan at Running Against Cancer's run in Ballinasloe. (Pic: Running Against Cancer/ Facebook)
  • Running Against Cancer Ballinasloe

    The RAC gang at training at Dunlo Track in Ballinalsoe. (Pic: Running Against Cancer/ Facebook)

RAC have organised a 10km walk/run in Aughrim just outside Ballinasloe, Co Galway tomorrow, Sunday at 1.30pm. It aims to raise money for Aaron Rocke a sick baby, who has a serious heart condition. For more information and to take part see here.

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