Charity cycle challenge a celebration of ‘new life’ for Culloville man
By Diarmuid Pepper
Culloville man Ronan Gregory is hoping to draw a line in the sand and look ahead to a cancer-free life.
Ronan thankfully got the all-clear in February after fighting for many long and hard months and to celebrate over-coming this battle, he is undertaking the gruelling Ring of Kerry Cycle.
It’s a 175 kilometre cycle which pushes participants to their limits, and Ronan hopes to use it as a demarcation of his new life.
“I’m doing the cycle to raise money for an incredibly worthy charity called Fintan’s Fund. But I think that the main reason for doing it is to mark the end of the whole cancer situation,” Ronan told The Examiner.
He continued: “I got the all-clear in February, so come July when I finish the cycle, my thinking is, that’s it, it’s time to put this behind me. This cycle is a way of marking this.”
Fintan’s Fund is a charity set-up to help young adults with cancer, and because Ronan was 25 when he was diagnosed with cancer, he fell into this category.
“I had a social worker who contacted me and he was going through charities that could help,” Ronan recalled.
“He advised Fintan’s Fund. It’s named after a man called Fintan who passed away at a young age from cancer. The people he left behind realised that when you have cancer, all you have are bad memories from it.
“So they wanted to set up a charity that helps people create good memories whilst they have cancer.”
Ronan availed of their services, and they gave him a personalised experience that he will never forget.
“I contacted them and they asked me what I liked doing. I said I liked exploring Ireland and seeing what each county has to offer.
“I said I would like to visit Donegal, and they sent myself and my girlfriend Aoibheann to Lough Eske Castle, which is a five star resort. We were in the heart of Donegal for two nights and they gave us a voucher to go with it.”
Ronan revealed that the charity went above and beyond the call of duty, saying: “If I had have asked for a skydive, they would have set that up too. There are no real limits to what they will do for people who seek them out.”
A lot of people have benefitted from Fintan’s Fund, and Ronan is immensely proud to be the first recipient of their help to fundraise on behalf of the charity.
“It’s great to give back to them. When I was going through treatment, they were able to give me a much-need break in Donegal.
“I was talking to them a few weeks ago, and I didn’t realise I am the first recipient of their funds to actually do a fundraiser for them.
“They have people who fundraise for the charity, but I am the first person who has availed of their services that is now giving something back, so I am delighted with that.”
Last weekend, Ronan completed a 130 kilometre cycle as he gears up for the mammoth 175 kilometre Ring of Kerry Cycle. Such strenuous exercise is a far cry from a few months ago.
“When the cancer struck, I was quite active. I was in Lancaster doing my PGCE, we were in the gym a lot over there, playing basketball and the likes. But when you are sick, you can’t really do much.
“I had a PICC line, which is a tube which goes from your arm into your heart, through which you are given treatment. I kept it on for six months, as it saved them having to put a needle into my arm every time I went down.
“So I couldn’t do any sport with it because it had to be kept as clean as possible for it to work. I literally couldn’t do a thing, so it’s good to get back exercising and being active.”
The cycle will take place on the 6th July, and Ronan is anticipating a tough ride.
“I never really thought of this cycle until around December time, when I finished treatment. That’s when I settled my goals on it.
“In July of every year, the Ring of Kerry Cycle chooses five or six charities that they donate money to. It costs €100 to enter and that money goes towards them charities.
“It is an annual event and around 14,000 cyclists will take part in the 175 kilometre race. So you set off very early in the morning, around half 6, and you don’t get back in until half three depending on how fit you are, maybe later.
“The boys I am doing it with did it a few years ago. They were gone for six or seven hours, it’s a long time on a bike. But the feeling when I’m finished will be indescribable.”
If you would like to donate, donation sheets are available in shops local to Culloville. You can also donate online, via: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ronan-gregory1