Following the success of the previous two cycling challenges which altogether raised over €135,000 for breast cancer research at the University of Malta, ALIVE Charity Foundation will be taking up the task of raising funds for the gold ribbon, which is the official ribbon of children with cancer.
“This year, following various talks with the Research Trust (RIDT) of the University of Malta and the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University, an urgent need was felt to start conducting research in two other common cancers found in Malta, especially in children – leukaemia and brain tumour. ALIVE2015, in collaboration with Puttinu Cares, will be raising funds for the gold ribbon,” said Nicky Camilleri, Chairperson ALIVE Charity Foundation.
Held at Mater Dei Hospital, the press conference was attended by the President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the Parliamentary Secretary for research, innovation, youth and sport Chris Agius and the Shadow Minister for the family and the rights of children, the elderly and persons with a disability Robert Cutajar, as well as the Pro-Rector for Research and Innovation Professor Richard Muscat, Senior Lecturer within the Department of Anatomy Dr Pierre Schembri Wismayer, and Consultant Paediatric Oncologist and President of Puttinu Cares Children’s Cancer Support Group Dr Victor Calvagna.
“The most common cancers in children are acute leukaemias and lymphomas, brain tumours, the various sarcomas, and the embryonal tumours particular to children,” said Dr Victor Calvagna. “Cancer in Malta affects around 10 children under the age of 14 years every year. A third of these suffer from leukaemia and another third will have a brain tumour. Therefore it is the duty of Puttinu Cares to support initiatives that support research in the treatment of these conditions and it is the aim of ALIVE2015 to collect funds for this cause.
ALIVE 2015 – Cycling Challenge for Cancer will be held from the 9th to 18th July 2015 – in seven days – across seven countries. Forty-five (45) cyclists are training and preparing for a physically and mentally tough ride. The group will cycle approximately 150 km every day from the Alps to Sutton in the UK. The route will see the cyclists starting from Liechtenstein, crossing the Alps and Switzerland and heading into Germany. After crossing the Black Forest and the Alsace region of France as well as the Vosges Mountains, they will head into Luxembourg and cycle to Belgium. Crossing the English Channel to Dover, the cyclists will then finish the challenge at the Puttinu Cares Residence in Sutton.
To date 41 of the 45 places available have been filled and fund-raising activities are already being organised.
The raised funds will go towards scientific research in childrem’s cancer at the University of Malta. Dr Pierre Schembri Wismayer will be conducting the research together with a team of researchers in collaboration with Mater Dei Hospital.
“Much of the research already funded by ALIVE is aimed at better understanding the cancer’s genetic background in Malta and how to best tackle it. This year, they will be funding research into actually treating cancers. And for this we are very thankful,” said Dr Pierre Schembri Wismayer.
“Once a cancer has spread, there are three things which can go round the body and damage the harmful cells all over the body. These are chemicals in the blood, as well as viruses and the immune system itself. The anatomy department studies all three of these methodologies in order to target cancers, primarily in young people and children. Differentiation therapy uses non –toxic chemicals to make cancer cells grow old and die whilst using safe viruses and the body’s own immune system together can help attack cancer which has spread and is not amenable to operation,” explained Dr Schembri Wismayer
“For the third time, members of ALIVE Charity Foundation will be providing a new source of funding for our University research drive. The University needs to expand its scientific research endeavours in paediatric cancer,” said Prof Richard Muscat. “Private initiatives, such as ALIVE2015 are definitely to be commended and it is hoped that such will be emulated by others so that we will be able to continue expanding our research capabilities.”
ALIVE2015 – Cycling Challenge for Cancer is being powered by Valletta Cruise Port, Made Good, Wurth and Garmin and being sponsored by Owner’s Best, Ricetti, Pavi Supermarkets and Springbox media.