I’d been eagerly anticipating the launch of the Climbers Against Cancer (CAC) beanie for weeks, after first seeing some pictures on their Twitter feed. It has to be said that I love a woolly hat and the bright colourful stripes of the CAC beanie drew me straight away.
The week that sales opened, I was there on my iPad…..kerchinggg!
But for me, it’s not just about buying a bright warm hat to cheer me on those long grey winter months.
If you’ve not heard about Climbers Against Cancer before, I’ve got a few snippets of information which, if you’re anything like me, will blow your mind. Actually, if you have heard about CAC before, it will probably still blow your mind!
The driving force behind starting CAC is the human dynamo John Ellison, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in October 2011. Just over a year after the prognosis, he launched the charity with 2 clear aims:
- Raise awareness and, by talking openly about cancer, allow others to feel more comfortable discussing the disease.
- Raise funds to help further research into finding a cure for cancer.
CAC started out by selling t-shirts, later expanding into sales of hoodies, boxers, climbing holds and now beanies. The charity is well known by climbers across the world for its brightly coloured t-shirts with an instantly recognisable logo. Wearing your CAC t-shirt is a great ice breaker – I’ve lost count of the number of conversations started with strangers, simply because one of us was wearing a CAC t-shirt.
One of the key decisions CAC made right at the start was to offer one price for a t-shirt, with no postage costs, regardless of location in the world. That and the fact that profits are distributed in the form of donations to cancer research facilities across the world (directly to the research facilities rather than through other cancer charities where part of the cash donated could get soaked up in administrative costs).
The statistics as of September 2015 (since the launch of CAC on 24 January 2013) are impressive:
- Over 24,000 t-shirt sold
- Gross sales of approx €500,000 euros
- 9 donations of £10,000 each already made to cancer research facilities in Australia, France, Canada, Great Britain, USA, Germany, South Korea, Austria and Mexico (with a planned donation in Slovenia later this year)
Whilst CAC is huge in the worldwide climbing community, it is not just about climbers. Cancer touches most of us at some point in our lives whether it be ourselves, family, friends or work colleagues who are suffering. Because of that, I know people who have absolutely no intention of climbing who are still proud to own a CAC t-shirt or hoodie, one example being my Mum who is in her 70’s (sorry Mum!).
I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll repeat it again many times, the founder of CAC, John Ellison, is simply one of the most inspirational, positive, funny and downright nice people I know. He took a crap offering from life and turned it into something to be proud of. Something which brings people together. Something which encourages us to talk openly about the lousy indiscriminate disease called cancer. Something which, by the end of 2015, will have donated £100,000 into research to find a cure for cancer.
That’s no mean feat for anyone, but for someone who is living with a terminal prognosis and dealing with high levels of pain it is something which I find incredible.
However, John is always keen to stress that CAC is more than him. There are 5 trustees listed on the website, along with an impressive list of official partners, official supporters and CAC centres.
So my new CAC beanie means more to me than a warm and bright hat to wear in winter.
It reminds me that I’ve participated in some small way to help research into curing cancer and that gives me a warm feeling inside. It also makes me smile and think of the positive and fun energy which John Ellison exudes when you stand there chatting about something and nothing.
…and frankly, well I just love the colours!
Whenever I write about Climbers Against Cancer, I always like to finish by picking one of the quotes from the website:
“Only when you’ve been in the deepest valley can you know how magnificent it is to be atop the highest mountain”
To get your own CAC beanie, t-shirt or hoodie, click here
All pictures, other than the first, kindly provided by Climbers Against Cancer