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Best foot forward

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THIRSTY WORK Rory Best enjoying a pint of Guinness after his arrival in Cong.

Michael Gallagher

Former Irish and Lions rugby captain Rory Best arrived in Cong last week at the end of a 180-mile walking challenge which he hopes will eventually raise €500,000 for the Cancer Fund for Children charity. The funds will go towards the construction of the proposed Daisy Lodge Therapeutic Centre in Cong which will support children with a cancer diagnosis and their families.
Rory set himself the challenge of walking from County Down to Cong and told The Mayo News the trek had proved challenging at times.
“At first I was thinking about running it, but reality soon set in as soon as we went about planning it. It’s easy to say these things sitting around a table, but it’s a different thing entirely when you really think about it.
“I’m delighted to be in a position to help this great charity and the support I’ve received along the way has been brilliant. We’ve had people come out and support us every day and along my journey I heard some heart-breaking and inspiring stories from children, parents, and health professionals.
“People talk about the challenges we faced on the rugby pitch with Ulster, Ireland and the Lions but that’s nothing compared to the challenges faced by families living with childhood cancer care. The care children diagnosed with cancer receive in hospital is excellent, it is clear that they really benefit from the emotional and therapeutic support provided by Cancer Fund for Children. I would like to thank everyone who has got behind me on this challenge - my wife Jodie, my kids, my family and friends and of course everyone who has donated so generously.”
Best was first inspired to take up his walking challenge when he and his family were invited to visit Daisy Lodge in County Down, a therapeutic short-stay centre for children suffering from cancer.
“We were blown away by the place, the children, the staff and the whole atmosphere there. To walk 20 miles a day for nine days is very little when one sees the brilliance of what goes on there and it will be the same in Cong.”

Praise for Rory
The drive to build the new Daisy Lodge in Cong has been spearheaded by Irish golf star Rory Mcllroy, and Best was loud in his praise for his fellow sportsman.
“Rory has been brilliant. He has worked so hard with the Cancer Fund for Children and has contributed so much. He’s in America a lot now, so it’s up to the rest of us to do our bit.”
Best was also impressed by the fact that the charity has an all-Ireland ethos, similar to rugby and golf.
“When I played for Ireland it was a whole-island ethos and I like that about the charity. If a child in Belfast, Buncrana or Ballina gets cancer they all deserve the best care possible and their families deserve the best support possible. That’s what we aim to do with the Daisy Lodges in Cong and Newcastle.”
To mark the success of his epic challenge Rory celebrated with an event at Mount Falcon Estate in Ballina after the conclusion of his walk. He was joined by key sponsors, members from the local community in Mayo along with Cancer Fund for Children representatives.
The evening included a Q&A session with Best and Mayo hurling captain Keith Higgins as well as a silent auction raising funds for Cancer Fund for Children.
Cancer Fund for Children’s CEO Phil Alexander added,  “This is an incredible effort by Rory and we cannot thank him and his family enough. It is our hope that Rory has motivated and inspired others to do whatever they can to help us support families with a cancer diagnosis and ensure that no child ever has to face cancer alone. We would like to thank Alan Maloney and his wonderful team at Mount Falcon Estate for their support towards this event and the local people of Mayo for their warm welcome and hospitality.”

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There is still time to donate to Rory’s Miles 2 Mayo for Cancer Fund for Children, go to cancerfundforchildren.ie or donate to Rory’s JustGiving page here. Should you wish to know more about our new build Daisy Lodge in Cong please contact belinda@cancerfundforchildren.ie.