CJs Rainbow Charity Cycle Malin to Mizen




Ballaghaderreen parents launch Malin to Mizen cycle in memory of their late son

C.J. McCann was just 21 months old when he lost his battle with a rare and aggressive brain cancer, ATRT (Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumour), in October last year. Now, his father, Joe, and 20 other enthusiastic volunteers will take on a gruelling Malin Head to Mizen Head cycle to raise money for two of the charities, Hand-in-Hand and Oscars Kids, who supported the McCann family during their childhood cancer journey.

Speaking at the launch of CJ’s Rainbow Charity Cycle at Strandhill last week, C.J.’s father explained the rationale behind the fundraising cycle.

“I decided during our time on St. John’s (the National Paediatric Oncology Ward), that I would fundraise for some the charities that helped and supported us during one of the toughest times of our lives,” he said.

“I wanted to do something that was a real challenge, so I chose the Malin to Mizen route, as opposed to Mizen to Malin, as it’s against the prevailing winds, and the way I saw it, C.J. didn’t get to decide the mammoth challenge that was put before him.”

Along with most of the group, Joe is not a cyclist. The 21-strong team will strive to complete the 619km cycle in just four days, a huge undertaking for an  amateur cycling group, beginning at the most northerly point on August 22nd and concluding on August 26th at Mizen Head.  CJ’s Rainbow Charity Cycle is all about raising funds for two amazing charities that have helped the family enormously over the past 18 months, while also remembering the bravery and strength of C.J. The family also hope to shine a light on the challenges of childhood cancer for families in Ireland.

“We hope to raise €100,000 to help these two charities to support other families who are trying to cope and juggle life,” said Joe.

Hand in Hand is a national childhood cancer charity, based in Loughrea, which supports families all over Ireland, helping them to cope with the impact of treatment on family life. This support can include counselling, play therapy for children and/or their siblings, complementary therapies, hot meals, laundry, and domestic cleaning. For the McCann family, this has included play therapy for C.J.’s sisters, Róisín (8) and Clódagh (6), which is immensely beneficial to them in coping with the loss of their little brother, and was also a vital outlet for them during C.J.’s treatment.

“Play therapy has been an absolute gift for the girls, from diagnosis and trying to understand all that went with it, right up to C.J.’s passing,” explained Joe.

“It’s so hard when you have a sick child to devote equal time and priority to everyone, and, at a time when we were unable to support the girls emotional needs, Hand-in-Hand took that worry from us – people often forget the siblings in this crazy world, but play therapy has been an essential part of our family unit coping with the loss of C.J.”

The second charity to benefit from the fundraising cycle is Oscar’s Kids, who support families coping with a child’s terminal cancer diagnosis; the charity aim to create moments of magic during the toughest of times. Their incredible support enabled the McCann Family to plan C.J.’s Magical Christmas last September, the only Christmas spent with C.J. at home. Oscar’s Kids charity encourages families to choose fun, adventure, magic, dreams and memories in the time that the family has left with their precious child; their approach is to outweigh the hardship and pain with fun, laughter and love.

Reflecting on the special Christmas with C.J., Joe said, “those incredible memories will be treasured forever – the magic it brought to all of our lives, and the way C.J. enjoyed it so much.”

“There are no words to describe those few days – it was simply the best gift; a memory we created together as a family.”

And so, the countdown has begun. There are three months of heavy training ahead for the cyclists, who hail from all corners of the land, to get their miles in and prepare for this mammoth task. Each and every of them will dedicate this cycle to C.J. and the children who are currently battling cancer, or those who have left this world.

Acknowledging the challenge of childhood cancer, C.J.’s Daddy admitted that is one of the toughest, and most intense, experiences any parent could go through.

“It’s exceptionally difficult on parents, and families,” he said.

“The treatment is so harsh on children, and parents on St John’s go through some really trying and testing days, in the hope of overcoming the disease.

“Those children – they are complete heroes to me; what they endure, how they keep smiling, it’s just incredible.”

The McCann Family now aim to help to support these heroes, and their families, through the proceeds raised by CJ’s Rainbow Charity Cycle. An iDonate page has been set up at www.idonate.ie/event/cjsrainbow, which will run from now until after the cyclists touch down in Mizen Head on August 26th, with 619km clocked up on their bikes!


About ATRT:

ATRT is a fast-growing tumour that typically begins in the cerebellum, or brainstem, and is found in fewer than 3% of children with brain tumours, most often seen in children three years of age or younger. Only approximately 60 babies are diagnosed with ATRT each year around the world; CJ’s chances of being diagnosed with ATRT were one in a million.

For further information, please contact Niamh McCann (C.J.s Mammy):


Email: cjsrainbowcharity@gmail.com / niamhemccann@gmail.com

Phone: 087-6442249

Instagram: @cjsrainbow https://www.instagram.com/cjsrainbow/

Facebook: CJs Rainbow Charity https://www.facebook.com/cjsrainbowcharitycycle/

iDonate: www.idonate.ie/event/cjsrainbow