A Kerry sheep farmer who drove his vintage tractor, Betsy, across America’s famous Route 66 last month has so far raised €25,000 for cancer research.
Kevin Curran from Waterville, Co Kerry, began fundraising for cancer research in 2010 after his wife Eileen, who had named the tractor, died from cancer the previous year.
The farmer, now retired, was a special guest at the annual Irish Cancer Society Research awards in Dublin yesterday.
Mr Curran, a father of six, said he wanted to play his part in raising funds for research so that future patients had better outcomes.
Betsy’s support team included Ogie Moran, the legendary Kerry footballer. The otherteam members are Maurice Fitzgerald, Mark Walsh and Frank Meara.
Mr Curran said they had chosen the Irish Cancer Society “as each one of us on the team had been touched by cancer either directly or indirectly”.
Mr Curran’s American fundraising project got under way last October when Betsy, a 1963 Fordson Dexta left Los Angeles to travel 12,500 miles east to Chicago. The charity drive took two weeks but another two were spent making preparations for the charity trip.
Because tractors are not allowed on part of the route, Betsy travelled on a trailer for 15% of the journey.
Mr Curran’s previous fundraising tractor runs included Malin Head to Mizen Head, the Ring of Kerry to Dingle, and Mizen to Carnsore Point.
“We have been using Betsy over the last three years to raise funds for cancer research and we will be taking her on more fundraising drives next year,” he said.
Mr Curran said they were hoping to get sponsorship for further fundraising ventures with Betsy.
“We enjoy the fundraising trips but we want to ensure that we can maximise the money raised,” he said.
Nine new cancer research grants totalling €1.65m were awarded yesterday under the Irish Cancer Society’s Fellows and Scholars for 2012.
One of the recipients, Dr Aideen Ryan, from NUI Galway, said: “Through our research, we aim to discover the factors that control the immune system’s interaction with colon cancer and how blocking these factors would enable us to develop new drugs that could be used to strengthen our immune response to cancer.”
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