Passion and purpose

Irish student Tony Griffin wants to make cancer history

- April 16, 2007

Tony Griffin and friends
Across Canada and Ireland too! Helping Tony Griffin (centre) on his 7,000-km trek across two countries are students Ben Whidden, Matt Bethune, Alison Keen, Rob Book and Dr. Stephen Cheung. (Abriel photo)

Anyone who has flown from Vancouver to Halifax knows what a long, arduous journey it can be. Now imagine making that trip on a bike.

ThatÕs what Tony Griffin plans to do. The kinesiology student, originally from Ireland, will cycle across Canada in May to raise money for cancer research. Not one to rest on his laurels, after criss-crossing our country, Griffin plans to cycle across his own, too.

He will complete his journey in Ireland, cycling from the Dublin airport to his hometown in Ennis Ñ a 7,000-kilometre trip in total. GriffinÕs Ride for the Cure hopes to raise $1 million for the newly-formed Tony Griffin Foundation, which will directly donate all proceeds raised to the Canadian Ovarian Cancer Society, the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society.

It was in November of last year that Griffin conceived of this journey, which will be dedicated to his fatherÕs memory.

ÒAfter my father died, I really wanted to do something that would make a difference É I felt there was a larger purpose for me that wasnÕt being fulfilled.”

Six months later, his dream is about to become reality Ñ thanks to vision, hard work and a list of supporters stretching from the Dal campus to the Emerald Isle.

ÒThe support I have received already has been phenomenal,” he says. ÒItÕs been like a domino effect. One person joins in, and then another and another. ItÕs just been fantastic.”

The project was announced at a press conference in Ireland, where Griffin is a national hurling star (IrelandÕs national sport, akin to CanadaÕs hockey). The launch was a huge success and included a videotaped message from Lance Armstrong himself, who has pledged his support for the Tony Griffin Foundation.

Griffin has played hurling for the past six summers, becoming a 2006 All-Star. This year, he will give up the thrill of playing in front of thousands of people to pursue this new dream. ItÕs well worth the sacrifice, he says.

ÒA lot of people go through the motions of life, itÕs like theyÕre waiting for life to start, instead of reclaiming it for themselves. When my father passed away, it was a wake-up call. WeÕve got one shot at life, and we have to live it to the fullest, every day.”

The journey has grown from a small idea to a huge undertaking, with some 50 people involved in the planning Ñ including a strong Dal contingent. Griffin is being trained by Dr. Stephen Cheung of the School of Health and Human Performance. Three Dal students will accompany him on his trip across Canada, driving an RV and handling logistics. The foundation manager, Dr. Travis McDonagh, is a Dal graduate. Several professors shaved their heads in support of his mission at a fundraiser at the University Club on April 5.

Inspired by Canadian legends Terry Fox and Rick Hansen, GriffinÕs primary goal goes beyond making a difference in the ongoing fight against cancer. He also hopes to honour his fatherÕs memory and encourage people to dream big.

ÒI want to inspire people along the way to believe in their dreams. For dreams do come true.”

For further information, contact the Tony Griffin Foundation at:   


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