Family and friends of the late Frank Larkin are coming together to do the North West 10K in his honour this Monday.
Frank, a prominent disability activist from Letterkenny, passed away in March 2020. Sadly, his death occurred at a difficult time for many, when restrictions prevented people from meeting to mourn or to pay their respects.
This Monday will be a special opportunity for Frank’s loved ones to remember him, and to celebrate his legacy with the community. A large group will be setting out from the starting line wearing T-shirts with Frank’s photo on them, along with the slogan “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – a tribute to Frank’s staunch support for Liverpool FC, alongside his beloved Finn Harps.
Frank’s mother Brighdin and his wife Pauline, along with her family, will also be there for the important day.
Speaking to Donegal Daily, Brighdin said: “I’d say it will be emotional but it will be nice at this time that everybody can come together.
“When Frank passed it was very isolating. Frank did not die with Covid but it was at the start of it all. We could not acknowledge it in the ways we would have wanted to.
“For that reason, we are all going out as a family and coming together to honour and celebrate Frank’s life and work and all that he did for disability awareness.”
Frank, was born with spina bifida and was a lifelong wheelchair user. Throughout his adult life, he campaigned on behalf of people with disabilities in Donegal, Ireland, Europe and worldwide.
He was elected as Chairperson of Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland in 2013 and was also a board member of Donegal Centre for Independent Living (DCIL). He represented Ireland at the European Network for Independent Living in Brussels.
The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Ireland Donegal Branch is one of the three beneficiaries of this year’s 25th anniversary North West 10k, which gave Frank’s family the inspiration to fundraise in his honour.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for anyone who wants to make a donation in memory of Frank: https://gofund.me/486201b4
On Monday, Brighdin said her thoughts will not only be with Frank, but with all those who lost loved ones during the pandemic. She recalls the heartache of March 2020 and not being able to visit her son in hospital until his last day. Her daughter Geraldine also passed in August 2020.
“So many people had awful experiences during Covid,” Brighdin said.
“So many people have suffered. It’s bad enough passing, but the soreness of the circumstances is heart-wrenching, not only ourselves but so many people have experienced the soreness.”
The North West 10K has raised nearly €834,000 for 36 charities in the past 24 years. It is hoped that this year’s milestone event will deliver more vital funds for the three benefitting charities: Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Ireland Donegal Branch, the Donegal Diabetes Parents Support Group and the No Barriers Foundation.
The Donegal Branch for Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus group is made up of families and carers supporting one another through life’s journey. The purpose of the national association is to provide information, advice and support to people with Spina Bifida and or Hydrocephalus their parents and carers, as well as to promote social inclusion and equality for people with these conditions in our society.
That too was Frank’s purpose, and his legacy lives on in the impact that he has made for all people with disabilities.
“Frank worked so hard. It’s nice now that we can do something and give something back,” said Brighdin.
Visit the ‘Walking in Memory of Frank’ GoFundMe page here: https://gofund.me/486201b4
Entries are continuing online for the North West 10k. Go to northwest10k.com to register or click on the link: https://www.njuko.net/nw_10k_2022