No rivalry as six siblings run 10km in memory of Mario - The Rugby Observer

No rivalry as six siblings run 10km in memory of Mario

Andy Morris 1st Mar, 2018   0

A RUGBY mum who inherited the same rare genetic disorder that killed her brother is teaming up with five siblings to tackle 10km in his honour.

Margaret Beever will run 10km for Cancer Research UK on March 17 to celebrate what would have been brother Mario Minihan’s 40th birthday – and honour his memory as a keen runner.

Super-fit Mario hoped to join the army, but his plans were dashed when he was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer on New Year’s Eve 1999 – when he was just 21.

Super-fit Mario Minihan, seen here on holiday in Lanzarote in 2000, hoped to join the army – but his plans were dashed when he was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer when he was just 21. (s)

His family were told the chances of him having the disease were similar to winning the lottery – around 14 million to one.

And in an extraordinary twist of fate, each one of Mario’s six siblings has since discovered they carry the same faulty SDHB gene which caused his cancer – and are now thought to be the largest family in the world to have inherited the rare genetic disorder.

Now they have each pledged to run or row 10km for Cancer Research UK – the charity Mario asked them to support in his name just before he died in October 2000.

Margaret, 53, who lives in Frankton, said: “One of the doctors who treated Mario said the odds of him having this type of cancer were like the odds of winning the lottery.

“We were told there was a 50-50 chance of each of us testing positive for the mutated gene. We never dreamed all of us would test positive!”

Suspicions were aroused when Mario’s nephew Jacob was diagnosed with another rare form of cancer in 2010, aged just 18.

Tests on all the family then revealed that Mario’s brother Louis – Jacob’s uncle – not only had the faulty gene, but had advanced cancer himself.

Thanks to more advanced treatment, both Louis and Jacob survived.

But Mario’s parents Stella and Noel, from Solihull, were shocked to discover that nine out of their 16 grandchildren had also inherited the faulty gene.

The Minihan siblings, pictured in the year 2000. Left to right – back row: Jacinta, John, Louis; front row: Margaret, Mario, Dominic and Damian. (s)

Mum-of-two Margaret, a purchasing manager for Jaguar Land Rover, added: “We’re a really close family and we were all heartbroken when Mario died.

“Mario was very stoical about it and never once asked ‘why me?’

“He was a really upbeat person and a keen runner so he would have been absolutely delighted to see us all doing something positive rather than feeling sorry for ourselves on what would have been his 40th birthday.

“We chose Cancer Research UK because it was Mario’s chosen charity and because it’s entirely down to advances in science that Jacob and Louis are alive today.”

The family’s challenge is to run or row 10km within 24 hours of what would have been Mario’s 40th birthday on March 16th.

Margaret will be running 10km in Frankton with five family members including her brother Dominic Minihan, who still lives in Solihull.

John Minihan, who also lives in Solihull, will be teaming up with sister Jacinta Griffith to run 10km near her home in Dublin, while Louis will be running the distance near his home in Sydney with his four children and niece.

To complete the set, Damian Minihan will be completing the 10km with three of his children – including Jacob – on rowing machines at a gym near his home in Solihull.

Ellen Jurczak, local fundraising manager for Cancer Research UK, said: “We can’t thank Mario’s family enough for continuing to think of us at such a special time.

“It’s thanks to advances in research that survival rates for kidney cancer have more than doubled in the last 40 years from 23 per cent to 50 per cent.

“But those figures show there’s still a very long way to go. Overall, two in four people now survive their cancer for at least ten years but our ambition is to accelerate progress so that, by 2034, three in four people will survive for ten years or more.

“Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its research so every step made towards beating cancer relies on every penny raised.”

Visit for more information on Cancer Research UK. Visit to support Mario’s family.

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