The Belfast Giants are encouraging local people to take ‘giant steps’ this September to support local children with cancer, and their families.
Cancer Fund for Children’s Giant Coastal Challenge will return on Sunday 16th September, and the local ice hockey team are hoping that hundreds will step out and support the 10 mile charity walk from the Giant’s Causeway to Carrick-A-Rede.
Funds raised from the challenge will help Cancer Fund for Children to provide a range of practical, financial and therapeutic support to families whose lives have been devastated by a childhood cancer diagnosis.
The Belfast Giants, and Head Coach Adam Keefe, have also been longstanding supporters of the charity’s work, arranging for families affected by cancer to attend games, and providing unique opportunities for them to create special memories together.
One local family who know only too well the difference support from Cancer Fund for Children and the Belfast Giants can make are the Galway family from Belfast.
Mum Loretta said that support from the charity and the Giants team were absolutely invaluable for her family during her daughter Cora’s cancer diagnosis, and after she sadly passed away in September 2017. She said:
“Cora was diagnosed with cancer around Christmas 2015, when she was 15. It was a couple of months later when we met our Cancer Fund for Children Specialist Neil. He visited us in the house, offering one to one support for Cora, and for our sons, Clark, Calvin, Casey and Caiden. He would take the boys out for the day sometimes, and they loved it. They knew they could talk to him about anything, and it was reassuring knowing they had someone they could share their worries with.
“Neil also arranged for us to do things together as a family. We got to spend time together at Daisy Lodge, Cancer Fund for Children’s short break centre in Newcastle. Cora absolutely loved it – it was so special to be able to get away somewhere together as a family, to relax and have fun. When Cora was terminally ill, her mobility was limited so these breaks really made a huge difference.
“After she passed away, we got to go back to Daisy Lodge as a family for a bereavement weekend. The staff are incredibly supportive and it’s so nice to be in a space with other families who understand what you have been through. Getting to go to Cancer Fund for Children’s Christmas party also made a huge difference to our boys. It gave them the opportunity to have a bit of fun and made them realise it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom without Cora, that they aren’t alone.
“Some of our fondest memories though were the tickets provided by Cancer Fund for Children to go to Belfast Giants games. We got to know the team and Adam Keefe has taken a lot of time with our kids over the past few years. Adam himself has been hugely inspirational for our boys, inspiring our son Casey to follow in his footsteps and become a Junior Giant. He even went the extra mile and visited Casey’s school which made him feel special at such a hard time in his life.
“We are so grateful to Cancer Fund for Children and the Giants for everything they’ve done for our family. Losing a loved one is something you never get over, but the things they’ve done for us have helped us to cope better, stay positive and get on with life.”
Every week in Northern Ireland, another three families get the devastating news their child has cancer. Cancer Fund for Children understands the devastating impact a cancer diagnosis and treatment can have on the whole family and that beyond the essential clinical care there is a family life that needs to be rebuilt at home and in the community.
The charity’s Giant Coastal Challenge hopes to raise thousands to enable the charity to support these families so they don’t have to face cancer alone.
Encouraging local people to join together and get involved, Adam Keefe added:
“It is our pleasure and honour to be able to offer some kind of support to families going through the most awful time. The resilience of these families to stay strong and positive in the midst of a cancer diagnosis is just so inspirational.
“I would really encourage anyone considering supporting Cancer Fund for Children to get involved in their Giant Coastal Challenge. It really could make a Giant difference to families going through the most difficult time of their lives.”
To find out more about the work of Cancer Fund for Children or to sign up for their Giant Coastal Challenge go to www.cancerfundforchildren.com