The Bain family at the start of the race: Picture supplied

Father’s Day. A day your kids leap onto your bed excitedly, not being able to wait another moment to give Dad a hand-drawn card and start lavishing special love and attention on the man who gave them life.

But not every Dad can share this joy every Father’s Day. For Grant Bain, co-founder of The Cows, there’s always poignancy in Father’s Day since he and his wife Kerrin share the sadness no parent should have to know – that of losing a child.

The loss of their daughter Jessica to cancer before she was two years old motivated Grant and Kerrin Bain to start a movement that would become an extraordinary phenomenon. At just ten months old, Jessica was diagnosed with childhood cancer and throughout the next harrowing ten months CHOC played a significant role in the Bains’ lives, helping them cope with the devastation of the disease.

In memory of Jessica Madison Bain, Grant and Kerrin got together a group of friends and decided to enter their first 94.7 Cycle Challenge to raise funds for CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation. Wearing cow suits, they set a target of R60 000 – and raised R230 000.

That was in 2008. 

Since then the group has grown into a dynamic herd of men, women and children, known for inducting new recruits with their invitation to ‘Get Udderly Involved’. For this group of activists, donning a cow suit is about celebrating life – not only Jessica Bain’s, but all those children who bravely battle cancer, as well as their fathers and mothers.

This year the Herd celebrates its 10th year anniversary with over 2 500 Cows and hopes to raise R10 million for CHOC. The Cows not only take part in cycle races but also in running races like Comrades and Two Oceans, swimming events like Midmar and Sun City Swim, IronMan, and even riding from Cape Town to Jo’burg on a single speed BMX. The second-generation calves take part in children’s races.

“Participating in challenging events really gives us horns,” says one member of The Cows. “We use the events to come out of our comfort zones and challenge ourselves, just like those little children undergoing treatment for cancer. If we are not taking part in an event, we are there with the flag, kit, mascots and cow bells cheering on our fellow Moo-Cows. We make as much noise and have as much fun as possible! It’s all for a great cause and anyone can join. No bull!”

Since the couple donned their first cow suits, the Herd has raised R30 million for CHOC, wearing an unbelievable variety of cow costumes. The money The Cows have raised for CHOC has made a fantastic difference to the organisation. It has helped build more CHOC houses, where a child with cancer, as well as a parent or caregiver, can stay while undergoing treatment. It goes towards childhood cancer awareness training and education – to promote early detection and to increase the success rate of treatment; it goes to carers; to transport for patients to and from hospital.

(Press release on behalf of CHOC)