This weekend, 14 determined cyclists will set out to take on the gruelling challenge of a cycle from Malin to Mizen head.
But it will be a small challenge in comparison of the mountains scaled by the young girl in whose memory the cycle takes place.
The Lauren Memorial Cycle commemorates Lauren McGrath, from Askeaton, who packed a lot of living into her short 16 years before she passed in July of last year.
After being diagnosed with leukemia at just three years of age, and undergoing two and a half years of tough chemo as well as receiving a bone marrow transplant, Lauren developed an incurable form of epilepsy when she was eight.
The little girl had to cope with up to 30 seizures a day and was confined to a wheelchair for her own safety because, while she could walk, she was constantly in danger of falling.
In 2019, Lauren developed and aggressive tumour on her leg, which doctors said they would have to amputate.
Her dad, Niall, told the Limerick Post: “I remember telling her and she said to me ‘I’m tough, I can deal with it.’ That’s the kind of person she was.”
Lauren passed away when she was just 16 and a half years old, after an inoperable tumour developed on her lung.
“But despite everything, she loved coming out with me on the jet ski. She loved her music and got to see Ed Sheeran. She loved rugby. She met Simon Zebo and he gave her his shoes.”
While Lauren was ill, Niall and his wife June received a cheque “out of the blue”. It came from the Cliona Foundation, a Limerick charity that helps families of seriously ill children.
“Then the Garda organisation, Little Blue Heroes, came on board and came out to Lauren. They spent time with her, gave her an exact Garda uniform in her size, and there was a cheque as well. That kind of support means so much when a child is ill, the recognition and money to take the child off for a weekend for a treat. That’s why we said we would make those two charities the beneficiaries of the cycle,” Niall said.
At first, Niall and his fellow cyclists hoped to raise €5,000 but the pub where Lauren’s brother Alan works part time, the Top of the Town, organised a weekend of events and raised more than €30,000, while the Lauren Memorial Cycle has GoFundMe page that has raised nearly €13,000 to date.
The generosity of supporters will be a huge motivation for the cyclists as they take on the 660k push over six days, starting this coming Saturday (September 16).
“The kindness of people and the sense of community we’ve experienced in all of this has just blown us away and we’ll be pushing to help two great causes as much as we can,” said Niall.
Donations can be made to the campaign on GoFundMe.com/f/lauren-memorial-cycle-malin-to-mizen.