Remembering Niamh and Darra, Cycle for CRY

A group of hard workers for CRY, including Billy Lee, Limerick Senior Football manager.

Organisers of the annual 125 Endurance Cycle, 5 and 10 km Walk/Run are busy finalising details of the event that will take place on Saturday, May 4th. Organised and funded by volunteers and sponsors, this event is in its seventh year. It started in 2011 when the community of Monagea/Strand suffered a devastating blow when two of their young parishioners, Naimh Herlihy and Darra O’Donovan, died in their sleep within eight months of each other. The loss of these two bright lights was felt not only by their respective families, but by the locality at large. Both were lost to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.
In the context of cardio-logy, the term SADS refers to Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome. However, it is sometimes referred to SADS as ‘Sudden Adult Death Syndrome”. In about 1 in every 20 cases of sudden cardiac death and up to 1 in 5 young sudden cardiac deaths, no definite cause of death can be found.
But Niamh and Darra’s family and community were not prepared to stand by and do nothing to create awareness of the situation. They host an annual event which has proven to be a wonderful financial boost for the organisation CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young, serves to create awareness, and help provide free medical screening. This is an essential aim of the organisation itself: screening alone can save a multitude of lives.
This year, the 125k cycle route goes to Reen’s Pike, up to Ardagh, Carrigkerry, Athea, Templeglantine, Tournafulla, Ashford, Broadford and back to Monagea. There will be a refreshment stop in Tournafulla as usual. There is also a 110k and 70k cycle. The walk is 10k from Monagea in to Newcastle West and a flat circle around and back. There’s a charge of €25 to enter the cycle and €10 to do the walk/run.
I asked Liam Herlihy, trustee with CRY and father of the late Niamh, what the hopes of a good fundraiser were. He said that on the first year alone, the event raised over €12,500. “We’d sponsor-ship cards that year but we haven’t used them since. People are incredibly generous, so we saw no need. Money is donated and we always raise up to €20,000, already there are donations coming in. We have well over €200,00 raised for CRY since we started to run the event,” he told me. That’s a very impressive sum of money.
All services provided by CRY Ireland are free. CRY is a self-supporting regis-tered charity. It receives some government funding, but it is also dependent on fund-raising activities and private donations. The bulk of the money that is taken in comes from various fundraising events.
The majority of the funds raised for CRY go into the Centre for Cardiovascular Risk in Younger Persons at Tallaght Hospital. To date, over 5,500 individuals have been seen at the centre. Screening is one of the most important aspects of the organisation. Not only does it act as early detection of heart defects, but it also puts the minds of those concerned at ease. For many years, the organisation operated from a prefab building in Tallaght.
At last, it is almost ready to move to a new building that will have state of the art facilities to help with the work. There has been a monumental effort in fundraising for the building, and it currently employs five members of staff, which will increase to ten. It also retains the services of two Psy-chotherapist Counsellors. All other members of the team work as volunteers.
Liam told me that there will be 700 to 800 people taking part in the event at the weekend. The volunteers do a terrific job.
“The cyclists will be fed three times, before they leave, again in Tournafulla and when they get back, so there’s a fair amount of catering involved alone,” he said. He also said that there will be stewards at various places along the route and has made an appeal for others to get involved in the stewarding. “We need a lot for such a long route,” he added.
The new premises in Tallaght will be opened by the end of August or beginning of September. The continual fundraiser efforts are very much appreciated. “There’s always something going on, Tim Collins’ donated the copyright of his new Limerick song “Forever part of me” to the organisation, Tony Noonan of Noonan’s Christmas lights donated part of the funds raised, coffee mornings and other events are so much appreciated,” Liam said. He thanked everyone for their efforts and the volunteers who are always just a phone call away.
I’d met Liam at a recent coffee morning in SuperValu in Castleisland some weeks past. Aidan O’Mahony, Kerry footballer and “Dancing with the Stars” winner accompanied him. He is involved with CRY also and is preparing to take part in an event called “Cha Cha the Camino for CRY with Aidan O’Ma-hony” from September 7th to 14th this year. Liam and his wife Marie are joining him on team CRY.
“It is an honour for me to take part in the Camino Trek and to be an ambassador for such an important and worthy charity. Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) has affected so many families in Ireland including my own. The provision of CRY’s supports and services to patients and families who have experienced a loss to the condition are exceptional,” Aidan stated.
Aidan is leading a group on the Camino and anyone interested in taking part can contact Liam on 087 2998461, or go to the CRY website for more information.
Anyone wishing to take part in the Monagea event can show up on the day and register for the cycle, run or walk. Registrations are taken from 7.30am to 9am on the Saturday morning of the event, or the night before in Monagea Community Centre from 7pm to 9pm. Limerick hurlers Aaron Gillane and Gearóid Hegarty will also be present.
Every year in Ireland, between fifty and sixty young people die from SADS. It’s heart warming to know that people who have already suffered at the hands of this tragic event are working so hard to prevent it from happening other families and communities. Please come out and support the Monagea 125…. cycle, run, walk, pour tea or donate, support comes in all forms. You will be made very welcome and any help is much appreciated and needed.