Ballybofey man Niall Mulrine was part of a 35 member team which has raised more than €150,000 for very worthy charities this year. He has just returned from Italy after five saddle-sore days. This is his blog.
We are all aware of the great work that is carried out in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin.Sometimes we tend to think, because it’s a hospital in Dublin it is surely funded well by all the health boards and governments, as its one of the most prestigous children’s hospital in Ireland. At the moment, there are only 3 children’s hospitals in Dublin that is catering for all the children in Ireland, namely; Temple Street, Tallaght and Crumlin Hospital.
Unfortunately most of the funding is coming from fundraising, especially in the case of Our Lady’s Childrens Hospital Crumlin. Each year, the hospital recieves €100 million from the HSE. They have to fundraise approximately €12m per year to support projects in the hospital and The National Children’s Research Centre.
The research centre is fully dependent on fundraising. The fundraising events happen all around Ireland every year and setup by different individuals who have a passion to help the hospital. Events such as bag packing, church gate collections, sports events, school gatherings and also the overseas events that Crumlin Medical & Research Foundation organises.
Last week, four Donegal men took on one of the Overseas Challenge called “Kilometres for Kids”, which was based in the Italian hills of Rimmini. A total of 35 cyclists of all ages took part on a 5 day challenge which seen them climb long meandering mountains in the lovely landscape of North East Italy. Those men were Donal Sweeney (Stranorlar) on his 15th challenge, Michael Kelly (Stranorlar) on his 5th challenge, John Sweeney (Gweedore) on his 4th Challenge and Niall Mulrine (Ballybofey) on his 2nd challenge. Between the 35 cyclists involved, they raised a total of €150,000 this year from their fundraising efforts. This money will be going directly towards a new bone marrow transplant unit in St. John’s Ward. Niall Mulrine has took part in the 2nd Overseas challenge this year following the 2010 cycle, which the group raised €175,000. Whilst fundraising in Scoil Mhuire National school in Creeslough, Niall met with a young brave girl called Hannah Mc Ginley who is currently getting treatment in Crumlin Hospital. Whilst talking with her, she told him that she is currently attending the bone marrow unit in St. John’s ward and is improving from her illness at a respectable rate. Niall commented that “it was great to meet Hannah and hear how she was feeling. She spoke so well about her illness and how she was getting treatment in Crumlin. That little girl showed no worry or fear about her illness and her mother was present also, telling me how she is coping and how brave her daughter was. Her mother seemed to be a tower of strength with great optimism and you could see how close family they are. Her brother and sisters, Tarlach, Aoife, and Michaela are also at the same school and they seemed to look up to Hannah and were so proud of her. Great feeling to know that my fundraising last year was going directly to the machinery that Hannah needed to get well.”
Speaking with Tom Hickey from the Children’s Medical and Research Foundation about the amount of patients from Donegal he commented that “In 2009, 828 children and their families, from the Donegal community made the visit to Dublin for their children to attend Our Lady’s Hospital. Another 2,151 children visited the Outpatient clinic from the North West region. Donegal has the highest patient intake per capita in Ireland and that Donegal people are great in pulling together to fundraise for the hospital also.” People from all backgrounds of fitness, age or location can take part in any of the challenges that are setup locally or Overseas. It is a great challenge to get involved in and whilst helping a great cause, people are actually helping themselves in their own health and motivation to do something good for someone else. Niall also said that “Last year was my 1st year to do the cycle and at that stage I would have only been on a mountain bike for 2 years on goal to lose some weight. Local man Michael Kelly who had been doing it a few years then told me how he cycled and fundraised for Crumlin as it was a great cause and I should think of doing it. I contacted the CRMF office in February 2010 and asked for application and the training started then. I only stepped onto a road bike 2 months before the actual challenge. There were 3 different groups available to join on the challenge depending on fitness and we could have changed groups if any of them was too hard. This was a relief as I had heard about 12Km hills at 15% gradient and thought I would never do it. Once out there and meeting people who had children in the hospital and also met past patients who all said, they would not be out cycling if not for the hospital and this was their way to give something back. I have no connection with the hospital, but if I was to have a sick child I would hope that this hospital was still thriving”. That same year, Niall and his wife Maggie, had their first child, Abigail, who nearly arrived whilst Niall was on the challenge, but eventually waited until he came home.
“The comminatory between all involved was great and being part of something like this was a great feeling. As the recession has hit, this and other hospitals need more and more of people’s efforts in fundraising”, Niall said. There are 3 ways people can give to this charity. As Edel from the CRMF office stated, “People can give in 3 different ways, the 3 T’s which is either by giving their Time, Talent or Treasure?” So if you would like to know more how to get involved go to http://www.cmrf.org/ and register your interest with the team.