28 September 2021

Brumbies players running for the lives of kids with cancer

| James Coleman
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Brumbies players interact with fans after an open training session. Photo: Brumbies Media/Rian Murphy.

A Brumbies open training session at the Canberra Stadium. Photo: Brumbies Media/Rian Murphy.

Every day in Australia, three children are told the horrible news that they have cancer. For the month of September, this works out at 90 children.

The Kids’ Cancer Project has launched a fundraising challenge built around this reality called “The Better Challenge”. Participants have been encouraged to walk, ride, run, or roll three kilometres a day for the whole month of September, or 90 kilometres in total.

Funds will go towards research into improving the lives of those affected by childhood cancer.

Canberra’s own rugby team, the Brumbies, are getting behind the challenge. Players have been completing the three kilometres a day and posting to their social media profiles to encourage fans to donate.

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Kids’ Cancer Project CEO and Brumbies great Owen Finegan says he’s excited to see the Brumbies get behind the cause with such enthusiasm.

“It’s about us being able to support childhood cancer research and get better treatments, better cures, better quality of life, and a better future for our kids who are going through it,” Owen says.

The Kids’ Cancer Project is an independent national charity founded in 1993 by a bus driver.

“He was driving along the street, and stopped to let two bald kids cross the road,” Owen says.

?//?? This month our players and staff have been supporting Owen Finegan and The Kids' Cancer Project's BETTER…

Posted by Brumbies Rugby on Thursday, September 23, 2021

It was a meeting that left a lasting impression and, since then, the Kids’ Cancer Project has contributed tens of millions of dollars to scientific studies to help children with many types of cancer.

“Last year, we celebrated over $50 million that has been committed to child cancer research projects across Australia.”

Owen says the Brumbies did have grand plans to complete all 90 kilometres in a day with a relay race involving all their players and staff, but COVID-19 restrictions in the ACT curtailed this.

Across the country to date, more than 3500 people are involved in The Better Challenge so far. Participants already walked around the circumference of Australia ten times and raised more than $800,000.

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“We’ve had fantastic participation and if we can get sporting organisations and the wider community involved in helping us make it better for these kids, it’s a great result,” Owen says.

“The rugby business across Australia has really gotten behind us – the Brumbies, the Western Force, the Warratahs, and the Rebels are all involved. We’ve been amazed by the response.”

Owen himself has set the target of doing 90 kilometres every week, and has clocked over 320 since 1 September.

The Kids' Cancer Project

A template for participants to post to their social media profiles. Image: The Kids’ Cancer Project.

“We’re looking forward to the end of September and the end of The Better Challenge when it looks like we’ll be able to announce funding for another nine research projects across Australia.”

The research will investigate new drugs and provide children with better access to clinical trials and treatments. Kids’ Cancer Project is also looking at funding two late-effects programs to provide a better quality of life to those kids who have gone through the cancer journey.

“If you looked 50 years ago, the survival rates were two out of 10; now they’re eight out of 1o. We want it to get it even better.”

Owen says although the challenge is drawing to a close, it’s never too late to get on board, either by making a donation to someone who is already involved or by participating yourself.

“Even if it means jumping on your bike and completing several kilometres that way for a boost.”

To sign up for The Better Challenge or donate, visit the Kids’ Cancer Project website.

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