Michael’s Marathon Challenge for children’s Cancer Fund

June 23, 2014

By Christine Keighery

Newry man Michael Dillon has embarked on a marathon challenge in aid of the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children, completing a gruelling five UK and Ireland marathons since last year. The Newry City Runner now plans to top off his amazing feat with a 40 mile run from Belfast to Newry on Sunday 29th June.

Michael and his family experienced first hand the impact of a cancer diagnosis after his wife Sinead was diagnosed with breast cancer last May.

“Sinead had the operation to have a mastectomy with 5 weeks of radiotherapy – 25 daily sessions in all” explains Michael.

“The daily trip to the cancer unit in Belfast was so tiring.  We noticed quite a few children going through the same exhaustive process and it touched our hearts. All of these brave and fearless children were going about their daily lives as if nothing was wrong,” he adds.

“After a little bit of research we found out that the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children were building The Daisy Lodge in Newcastle, to replace the Shimna Valley Complex which can no longer cope with the numbers and wasn’t purpose built for children. The lodge would provide therapeutic short breaks for up to 500 families affected by cancer a year, including the diagnosed child, parents and siblings.  Bereaved families could also avail of the breaks at the lodge.

“The total build was projected at £3million so I decided to fundraise and do something stupid like run 5 marathons and then run from my work in Primark in Belfast to Primark in Newry, a total of 40 miles!” jokes Michael.

He began the “Big 5” with the Dublin Marathon last October, going on to complete the London, Belfast, Newry and Mourneway marathons in the last 8 weeks! Undaunted by the miles he has clocked up in recent weeks, Michael intends to complete his grand finale 40 mile run this Sunday.

So far the marathon man has far surpassed his initial target of £3,000, raising almost £14,000 in total so far from his marathon challenge as well as from a pub quiz and bag pack, and donations from his fellow workers in Primark stores across Northern Ireland.

With 3 children, teenagers or young adults diagnosed with cancer every week in Northern Ireland, Michael’s marathon efforts for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children are so worthwhile. Playing down his mammoth challenge however, a modest Michael says,

“I’ve done very little apart from running – everyone around me in my family and friends have done all the hard work! I have an amazing support crew!”

You can donate to Michael’s Just Giving page at

or collect one of the many sponsor cards for his upcoming run home from work which are available in Primark stores in Newry, Lisburn and Belfast, as well as in First Derivatives,  Canal Quay, Newry and William Goss Motors Newry.