A woman who lost her cousin and aunt to cancer will begin an epic three-day stand-up paddle today along the north coast to raise money in their memory.
While most people will be cracking open their Easter Eggs on Sunday, Jennifer Greenlees plans to be completing her 70-mile sea adventure in Bangor, after paddling all the way from Portballintrae.
The 41-year-old holistic therapist from Belfast had originally been inspired to raise money for her cousin Allyson Bell’s specialist treatment in Canada to fight breast and ovarian cancer.
Sadly Allyson, a 54-year-old mother-of-three, lost her battle last month, but Jennifer vowed to still complete the challenge to help her family with medical and other expenses in the aftermath of the tragic death.
Allyson’s mother Eleanor Greenlees also died of cancer 18 months ago, aged 81, but memories of her determination while she fought the disease is providing all the motivation Jennifer needs for her sea challenge.
“My aunt was so positive and hopeful,” said Jennifer.
“She was a determined fundraiser who, even when she was in the middle of treatment, would be out in the street raising money for Marie Curie.
“She raised around £200,000 for the charity and I know she would want us to continue her great work.”
Allyson was a thoughtful person who wasn’t keen on being the centre of attention, said Jennifer.
When the Larne beautician was told she had just months to live after all the treatment options locally had been exhausted, she took a trip to Canada to see her son.
It was there that she came across a treatment costing over 70,000 Canadian dollars. The extended family had already raised more than 30,000 dollars for Allyson’s treatment when she passed away in March.
Since then, any online donations have been going to Marie Curie while cash donations have been used to help Allyson’s family, including her husband David, whose own medical problems have forced him out of work.
Jennifer plans to set out around 5am today, and hopes to do five-hour stints each day, before finishing up in Bangor.
She expects the challenge to be tough, both physically and mentally.
“I hope to be standing the whole time but if conditions are too rough or windy I will have to kneel or lie down flat and paddle with my arms like a surfer,” she said.
To make a donation, visit Allyson or Jennifer’s JustGiving pages at www.justgiving.com/remember/109559/Allyson-Bell and www.justgiving.com/Jennifer-Greenlees.
Jennifer aims to raise £5,000.