An idea that was born when a Castlebar woman who had survived breast cancer was having a chat with her friend (who happened to be the Taoiseach ) about how she could raise some funds for cancer research, has grown into something of a ‘pink movement’ in Mayo.
More than 500 cyclists donning pink are going to the startline in Castlebar on May 3 for the fifth Pink Ribbon Cycle, which raises money for NBCRI - breast cancer research - at the National University of Ireland in Galway.
The cycle has grown each year and now other towns and villages in the county are joining the pink campaign and organising events in their own localities to raise funds for research.
Lourda McHugh said it was Enda Kenny who first suggested a cycling event when she was chatting with him and talking about how she would like to raise funds for cancer research.
“It all grew from there,” she says. Lourda joined forces with some other likeminded women, some of whom also have firsthand experience of breast cancer.
Then John Brennan and Castlebar Cycling Club came onboard to coordinate the cycle itself.
“We are a community of volunteers,” explains Lourda. “Some are involved because they have experience of breast cancer, others are involved because they see the hope and the vision. They know this is an investment in the future, in everybody’s future.”
For Lourda, breast cancer research is incredibly important.
“The die may be cast for us [survivors] but not for others,” she continues. “I believe that some day people won’t have to lose their breasts or go through chemo or all the other horrible treatments. Of course we’ll keep looking for a cure, and wouldn’t that be amazing but in the meantime, let’s improve early diagnosis, treatments, and care, and the way to achieve that is through research.”
The Pink Ribbon Cycle, which Mr Kenny has participated in each year since it was laucnhed, has certainly captured the imagination of the Mayo public.
“The whole of Mayo is coming onboard,” says Lourda. “We have people in other towns contacting us because they want to organise a pink day too.
“On the day of the cycle, the whole place just turns pink. It’s so powerful...a very strong message. People just believe in it and want to support it.”
The Mayo Pink Ribbon Cycle takes place on May 3. Cyclists can register or support the event at www.mayopinkribbon.ie or call into McHughs Dental Practice, Station Road, Castlebar, to sign-up.