We are living in strange and difficult times, as countries around the world continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. As healthcare professionals and scientists understandably refocus all of their efforts to deal with the coronavirus, many other aspects of healthcare and research have been temporarily sidelined. But cancer won’t go away – it will still be with us after the current crisis has passed, and when that time comes, cancer research will be more needed than ever before.
Now, it’s the cancer researchers who are taking up the challenge to raise much needed funds for Welsh cancer charities. ‘Pass the baton for cancer research’ will see groups of scientists taking on fundraising challenges each month, before passing the virtual baton to another research lab elsewhere in Wales.
The idea has been dreamt up by Alan Parker, who heads a research group at Cardiff University and receives funding from several Welsh charities including Cancer Research Wales, as well as Cancer Research UK. The Parker lab usually work on reprogramming viruses to help fight cancer, and have already translated their skills into helping the COVID-19 effort. They are currently working on modifying viruses that could be used to administer a vaccine for COVID-19. Alan said: “We recognise how difficult these times are for the charity sector […] we came up with the @baton4cancer initiative so that we, as researchers, can give back to the fundraisers who work so hard to support our work.”
Together with his colleagues and students, Alan will take on the first challenge, to run 1000 miles in May. Alan’s personal target is 200 miles – a pretty amazing undertaking for someone who, by his own admission, couldn’t run for more than five minutes at the beginning of the year!
Within three days of launching, the group have already exceeded their initial fundraising target of £1000. With other researchers around Wales queueing up to receive the baton next, we hope that there will be lots more support around the nation as each team of scientists completes their own challenges! The more that can be raised, the more vital cancer research we can support once the threat of COVID-19 has passed.
The proceeds from this challenge will be split between Cancer Research Wales and Tenovus Cancer Care. You can donate or read more about the challenge via the group’s donation page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/baton4cancer, and catch up with all their activities on twitter: https://twitter.com/baton4cancer