History

The Kerry Way Walk for Cancer Research was founded in 2006 by Damian O’Brien and his wife Laragh. Both had family members that had at that time been diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer. Damian and Laragh wanted to do something that would not only raise funds to fight cancer but would also raise awareness about the valuable work that was going on Ireland to develop treatments for poor prognosis cancers. They approached the Cork Cancer Research Centre early in 2006 and met with Dr. Declan Soden, the General Manager of the research facility based at UCC and Mercy Hospital Cork. Having seen first hand what positive impact could be made by supporting and funding the research work being undertaken by the scientists at the centre, a plan was put in place to walk the 9-day Kerry Way route during that summer of 2006.

Damian recruited friends to join him on the 9 day adventure either by walking some or all of the days. Between June 24th and July 2nd three walkers - Damian, John Martin and Donald Noonan - completed all 9 days whilst another 68 people joined in along the route, most walking just 1 or 2 days whilst some walked up to 6 days. The walkers raised an impressive €25,000 that first year and the scene was set for future years as the Research Centre sought to establish The Kerry Way Cancer Walk as part of its fundraising calendar.

In 2007 and 2008 the walk was set up as a 3-day event and in stayed true to the Kerry Way routes it was based around the picturesque towns of Caherdaniel, Sneem and Kenmare. By now the event had established itself on the calendar in the third weekend of July and as the staff at the Research Centre grew, the fundraising team led by Ann O’Sullivan played an increasing role in supporting and running the event. By 2009 the walk became based in Kenmare with a series of varied walks along both the Kerry Way and some fantastic routes over the Beara peninsula.

In 2010 Damian and Laragh stood down from the organizing due to overseas work commitments and Pat Murray and Balithín Kiernan, both of whom had been actively involved as walk leaders in previous years, took over the coordination. Pat and Balithín continued through 2010 to 2013 to work closely with the folks at the Research Centre to deliver a safe and enjoyable walking event that brought in the valuable funds in very challenging times. By 2014 Damian joined forces again with Pat and the by now very slick team of volunteers and scientists from the centre to deliver the  9th year of the walk which also included a new element of a Friday sunset boat trip and walk along the bay near Kenmare.

2015 was the 10th year of the walk and the route retraced the steps from those early days back in 2006. The walk in 2016 will be a 3 day event with details confirmed shortly.

“When we started out with the very first walk in 2006 we had no idea what a tremendous success this event would be. Together with so many volunteers and walkers we have made a significant impact to the lives of those that bravely battle cancer on a daily basis. Since its inception the walk has raised almost €600,000 which has gone directly towards funding the great advances in research being carried out by the team of scientists at the Research Centre. We have made great friends along the way, some of whom are sadly no longer with us. We keep those memories close to our hearts and we know that our success means that the hope of beating Cancer will very soon become a reality”.  Damian O’Brien & Pat Murray Feb 2015.

In 2016, over 130 walkers from across Ireland joined Breakthroug for the walk and raised over €48,000 for cancer research. The walk has gone from strength to strength over the last ten years and has raised over €680,000 to date for cancer research in Ireland.

It is important to point out that the Kerry Way Walk for Cancer Research is unique in that the costs for travel to and from the event, accommodation and food during the weekend are covered by the individual walkers and so 100% of all sponsorship collected by walkers goes directly towards Cancer Research. The costs associated with printing, advertising, logistical support and the t-shirts are minimized wherever possible and these costs are usually offset by the organizing of a number of smaller individual fundraising events, such as table quizzes, in the run-up to the walk event. The walk committee and leaders are volunteers who give freely of their time and are committed to providing a safe, fun and enjoyable event. If you, or anyone you know would like to do more than just walk the event and would be interested in volunteering your time, we would like to hear from you. The logistics of such an event is always a challenge and so we are also looking for non-walking volunteers who can help out with tasks such as walk registration, safety co-ordination and transportation.

Funds raised by the Kerry Way Cancer Research Way go directly to the Cancer Research Centre whose dedicated team of scientists focus on translating lab discoveries into new treatment opportunities for poor prognosis cancers.

The Kerry Way Fundraising Walk 2017 is a great opportunity to raise funds for Cancer Research as well as to meet new people, possibly catch up with last year’s friends, have fun, and keep fit as well.  Each day the scenery will differ but you are guaranteed beautiful countryside and panoramic views along “the way” every day.

On behalf of the team in Breakthrough Cancer Research, thank you for your support of the Kerry Way Cancer Research Walk and look forward to seeing you in July 2017!