The Charity Challenge
He’s set the ambitious target of raising €50,000 for the Irish Heart Foundation (75%) and the Solas Cancer Support Centre (25%) with all online donations making a difference to people affected by Stroke and Cancer. Alan is investing vast amounts of time and effort in completing the preparation required for such a feat but it’s YOUR donation to the Irish Heart Foundation and the Solas Cancer Support Centre that make Alan’s efforts worthwhile.
Following the successful 2012 charity fundraiser where Alan raised €15,000 by running 35 marathons in 35 consecutive days around the Irish coastline for the Irish Heart Foundation, he will be attempting to push himself even further this May and raise more funds for charity. Alan will be swimming up to ten hours a day and covering more than an Olympic Marathon each swim until the 500km is completed.
About The Cause
I spent the month of June travelling around France on my motorbike supporting the Irish Football Team and meeting my dad in Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon to enjoy the games and the time together. Unfortunately a few weeks’ later things would change drastically.
My dad drove to Welsh Park to support the Waterford under 21’s in their successful Munster Final win on Wednesday July 27th and walked into the Waterford University Hospital Friday July 29th for tests having noticed his increased fatigue and deteriorating health. By the time I flew home from London to accompany him to his test results appointment on Monday August 2nd, I couldn’t get my head around the rate of deterioration. His energy was totally depleted and he had lost significant weight since I last saw him a few weeks prior. During that appointment Dad was diagnosed with having cancer of the bowel. A significant amount had also spread to his liver and he was admitted to hospital immediately. Three very short and horrendously tough weeks later after one bout of chemo, the Cancer had got the better of him and he died on Monday August 22nd.
Losing my dad, especially in the helpless manner in which it all happened, has been the toughest experience of my life. Out of the darkness I am going through with my family I am determined to grasp any opportunity to create some positives. There was nothing I could do but try and comfort my dad in those heart-breaking weeks in hospital. We were all helpless. The swim is my small way of feeling like I’m taking some meaningful action and saying fuck you to Cancer.
I hope to do myself and my family proud, not only by swimming 500km at sea but by raising as much funds as possible for two very worthy causes in the Irish Heart Foundation and the Solas Cancer Support Centre that help people that will have similar experiences in their lifetime.
Every hour someone in Ireland suffers from a stroke. The lives of these people are often cut tragically short. Many are left disabled. Up to 10,000 die each year, which makes heart disease and stroke the nation’s biggest killer. It shouldn’t be this way and this fact forms the Irish Heart Foundation’s reason for being. They are the nation’s heart and stroke charity. Their mission is to affect positive change in the lifestyles of Irish people, to achieve better outcomes for those affected by heart disease and stroke and to challenge when the health of our nation is put at risk.
The IHF empower people to live longer, healthier lives.
The Solas Centre provides the highest quality cancer support services to the people of Waterford and the South East. These support services include counseling, relaxation therapies, and group support services. The Centre provide those affected by cancer, their families, and carers with a safe place a place to talk things over, to relax, and express emotions.
He was always an encouraging figure in my life and ensured I had everything I needed to succeed, and for that, I will always be grateful. He loved the simple things in life, spending time with his family, soaking up fresh air walking on local beaches, a good cup of tea (and cake), hurling and of course football.
A funny and inspiring story which I think sums up my dad perfectly occurred in 2011 when rehabbing from the Stroke he suffered. The physio had set out some steps for dad to attempt for the first time. He was advised to be extremely careful and patient as his cognitive skills, strength and balance were severely affected. Unbeknownst to the physio, a few days prior while on a weekend break from the hospital, dad had snuck off to the UK with his support frame in tow and had negotiated the steps of Wembley to cheer on Manchester United in the Champions League final. Nobody could deter him and nothing was going to stop him reaching that target he set himself.
Football was his life. Dad was a regular at his beloved Waterford United, joining the supporters club in his youth and later serving a variety of roles including club Chairman. He was also the club’s representative during the 1980’s and 1990’s. He was elected FAI President in 2001 having previously served as Vice President, proving to be a hugely popular figure in all circles of Irish football due to his unstinting loyalty to improving the game at every level. This was very evident given the masses of messages online from clubs and acquaintances around the country following his death.
He is considered to be the main driving force behind the creation of the Setanta Sports Cup, a cross-border competition between the best clubs on the island and served as the tournament’s Chairman from its inception in 2005. He was also instrumental in establishing the Football Village of Hope with the Department of Foreign Affairs through the Irish Aid programme, assisting Palestinian and Israeli children unite through football. The FAI’s John Delaney has paid tribute, saying dad “made an immeasurable contribution to the game and he is someone whose loss will be felt deeply in the world of football.”
Although not a full life in terms of years, dad certainly achieved more than most, raising a close-knit and loving family, having a fulfilling and successful work life and travelling the world to watch the sport he loved.
Contact Marathon Man
Alan is looking for volunteers with first aid experience and/or, minimum powerboat level 2 license, to accompany him on this adventure of a lifetime along the east coast of Ireland for any days between 29th May and 10th June inclusive.
If you are interested please email Alan at [email protected] with a short “CV”.