Saturday 25 November 2017

€400k race for sick boy who had 400 tumours

It's Catherine's third run to raise cash for nephew Marc's life-saving treatment in the us, she tells Brenda McCormick

Margaret Flanagan, right, and Catherine Ronayne, running the Flora Women's Mini Marathon for the Marc Owens Medical Fund. Photo: Ray Cullen
Margaret Flanagan, right, and Catherine Ronayne, running the Flora Women's Mini Marathon for the Marc Owens Medical Fund. Photo: Ray Cullen

I'm Catherine Ronayne and I'm running the Flora Women's Mini Marathon to raise money for my nephew Marc Owens' medical fund.

Marc lives just up the road from me in Glasnevin. We are an incredibly close family and since Marc got sick over two-and-a-half years ago, we have all been involved in raising funds so that he can travel to the US to get the medical treatment he needs to stay alive.

Marc was diagnosed with an exceptionally rare and aggressive soft tissue cancer in 2010 just as he was about to start his Leaving Cert year in Belvedere College SJ. It was a bolt from the blue: he had a stomach ache and was feeling a bit tired and then he got this appalling diagnosis. In a matter of days, this highly motivated, athletic 17-year-old became a seriously ill cancer patient with a dismal prognosis.

He was treated in the Mater and from there was referred to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, the only facility in the world where he can get the life-saving treatment he requires.

In February, 2011, he underwent a marathon operation to remove over 400 tumours from his body.

We've been through many dark days, but Marc keeps fighting on. Last summer, he got honours in his FETAC course as well as an A in Leaving Cert Maths, which he couldn't sit the previous year because of his illness. He is presently studying Business Studies in DCU. He is an inspiration to us all.


Just over two years ago, a group of Marc's family and friends with the enormous support of Belvedere College SJ set up the Marc Owens Medical Fund. Rugby player Cian Healy is Patron.

We have raised just over €600,000 through many individual acts of generosity by ordinary people who have come in contact with Marc's story. It has been a remarkable achievement, but we must keep up our efforts because we need at least another €400,000.

I never did the Flora Women's Mini Marathon until Marc got sick and now this is my third year in a row. I get great energy from the event and from the wellspring of goodwill for Marc from all those women who take part in support of him. That alone is a huge personal reward, apart all together from the money we raise. Over the last three years, the fund has raised in excess of €38,000 through the Flora Women's Mini Marathon. That is a fantastic result.

My fitness levels aren't too bad, but I have to say the chat on the day is as important as the walk and it is a great comfort at a difficult time for our family. I plan to run part of the way and I hope to improve on last year – but let's see how we get on.

For more information or to donate, go to www.marcownesmedicalfund.com

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