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Thousands of people are doing 100k in 30 days for breast cancer research - here's why

How Cara McAdam’s breast cancer experience sparked a nationwide fundraiser backed by famous names.

Ireland football manager Stephen Kenny, pictured here with Niall and Cara, is among those supporting the campaign
Ireland football manager Stephen Kenny, pictured here with Niall and Cara, is among those supporting the campaign
Image: Lisa McCormack

“WE ONLY HAD the idea two weeks ago,” says Niall Carroll, organiser of the 100k In 30 Days campaign to raise money for Breast Cancer Ireland. “We had planned for around 2,000 signups. Now we have 11,600 people signed up, and so far we have raised more than half a million euro… It’s just exploded.”

Niall’s wife, Cara, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2019. Six months later, and following treatment, she is well on her way to a full recovery. But the couple – who have two children aged four and two – decided to try and raise some money to thank those who had helped them. “We knew we wanted to do something to raise money to support people with breast cancer, and breast cancer research,” says Niall. 

The idea behind the 100k In 30 Days campaign is simple. Over 30 days through the month of June, everyone taking part pledges to run, walk or wheel just over 3k a day – or 100k in total. It’s a way to exercise that fits with social distancing restrictions. Participants can track their progress on the official website, and even challenge each other to beat their distance (the record so far is 471km over 30 days).

Niall, a businessman from Blackrock, Co Louth, first launched the event as a local community fundraiser in 2014. “When we did it last time, I said I’d never do it again,” he says. But then the idea came up to raise money for Breast Cancer Ireland, and he hasn’t looked back. 

Cara McAdam with Jack (4) and Laura (2) Source: Lisa McCormack

“We just said, let’s go for it,” he says. “We grabbed a team together really quickly, we built the website and registration process and opened it on Sunday 24 May. By Tuesday there were 250 registrations.”

A number of famous names have since thrown their weight behind the campaign, including rugby star Rob Kearney, Irish professional golfer Leona Maguire, Ireland football manager Stephen Kenny, and GAA legend Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Irish stockbrokers Davy are also supporting it as lead sponsor. But it was an interview with Mairead Ronan on Today FM that really caught the nation’s attention, says Niall. Since then, numbers have rocketed.

“Once people heard where the money was going to, it really took off,” he says. “Everyone that signs up gets a pink t-shirt, and we ordered 2,000 t-shirts thinking we’d be well covered. Now we need more! We had to send a lorry to France to pick up 10,000 pink t-shirts, and our printer is printing 2,500 a day.”

But registrations are very much still open – and he’s keen to emphasise that it’s not too late to get involved. “This is for the 30 days of June,” he says. “We really want to get the message out there that people can still register now. Someone has already completed the 100k in just a few days so there are lots of different ways you can approach it.” Aside from the registration fee, participants can also do their own fundraising if they wish, using a personal JustGiving page that comes with registration. 

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So how does Cara, only recently given the all-clear from breast cancer, feel about how quickly this has blown up? “She’s a bit overwhelmed,” says Niall. “She’s not big on the limelight part of things.” But the couple have since met with Breast Cancer Ireland to understand where the funding will go, which was a huge boost, he says. “We started with a sob story, but now it’s a positive one.” 

And is Niall doing the challenge himself? “Yes of course,” he says. “Everybody that I know is doing it – they know if they weren’t doing it I’d be straight onto them!” Even the kids are teaming up to complete the distance, he adds. “My son Jack is four and Laura is two. And between them and their cousins Anna, James and Tom – seven, five and three – they’ll all be doing it together.”

Beyond raising money, the campaign hopes to educate more women about breast cancer and encourage more people to check for lumps. “That’s how this all started,” says Niall. “If we can get more women checking, 15-40-year-olds, that’s the time. Cara is a school teacher, she’s very fit, she runs. If she can get it, anyone can.”

To sign up for the 100k In 30 Days campaign, visit 100kin30days.ie. You can also check out the #100kIn30Days hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. For more information on Breast Cancer Ireland, visit breastcancerireland.com

Sponsored by:

Breast Cancer Ireland

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