Baby Health in Winter
“Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you’ve got to do is call
And I’ll be there, ye, ye, ye
You’ve got a friend”
‘You’ve Got A Friend’ – James Taylor
I can’t imagine the emotions which the Donoher family have been experiencing in recent months when learning of their son Dan’s rare genetic neuromuscular disease, but the power of positive people has helped to carry them through it.
When former Laois GAA stars Niall and Aisling (née Quigley) Donoher started their fundraising drive less than two months ago to raise the €2million needed to send their brave one-year-old boy to the US for a once-off infusion, it seemed an impossible dream.
Michael Verney during his mission to do 1,000 push-ups in one hour to raise funds for PPE for HSE and @DoItforDan201. Photo: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Time was of essence but what has happened during that time is nothing short of incredible. In the middle of a health crisis, the ‘Do it for Dan’ campaign has lifted people from the gloom and showed that impossible is nothing, like the great Muhammad Ali said.
It highlights everything that’s good about the GAA. Once you’re part of it, it is a part of you. It picks you up when you’re down and the Donohers must be walking on water knowing the love and compassion which has been showered upon them.
People can so often be caught up in the rat race and the materialism of modern life that they often forget what really matters, what really feeds the soul and the remarkable response during their hour of need was a throwback to old Ireland.
The sense of community and people supporting each other was brought back to life and while the GAA may not be active on the playing fields right now, the spirit of the GAA is alive and well and it was a pleasure to play a small part in their journey.
1,000 push ups is nothing in the grand scheme of things but social media – which definitely has its disadvantages – helped the challenge to spread like wildfire with people donating from far and wide to help Dan and raise funds for PPE (personal protective equipment) for our brave frontline workers.
With the world deprived of live sport, people tuned in to ‘OurGame’ last night in their thousands to catch a glimpse of some form of competition and listen to sporting legends revisit some magical stories from the past with Shane Stapleton in the presenter’s chair.
It was great to kick off the show to the sound of Kerry football legend Pat Spillane with his enthusiasm and zest for life and sport a breath of fresh air to all. I only rang Pat the previous night to get involved and he couldn’t have been more accommodating.
His wife tells him he needs to do more for charity and he didn’t disappoint. As an Offaly man, it’s great to know that he still hasn’t let go of 1982 when the drive-for-five went up in smoke thanks to Seamus Darby and the ‘push’ that never was.
Michael Verney, pictured before his challenge. Photo: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
His son Patrick Jnr and wife Rosarii helped to set up him up on Zoom so that he could take part and he was box office as always. Former Tipperary hurling star Brendan Cummins answered an 11th hour call to get involved and delivered the goods once again while Galway comedian Aidan Tierney nearly undone my efforts with his impressions.
I was closing in on the milestone mark – completing 17 per minute – when legendary GAA broadcaster Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, through the medium of Tierney, chimed in that he does a thousand push ups in his garden every day and my face nearly hit the floor with laughter.
To know that people were wading in with their hard-earned cash to support the cause and that my phone was hopping with messages of encouragement was the only motivation needed to complete the challenge in style, even stupidly trying a clap push up to finish.
With Inpho photographer Morgan Treacy capturing some amazing shots having entered through the patio door of my girlfriend’s house – and maintaining social distance throughout like a true pro – there are some savage images to mark the accomplishment.
My phone has also been hopping earlier with a ‘No Caller ID’ flashing up around the 40-minute mark as fatigue was setting in. Who was it only Eamon Dunphy, who doesn’t have a mobile phone and also doesn’t know how to operate Zoom.
The famed soccer pundit had gone for his afternoon nap earlier that day but his wife had disappeared for a walk when he woke. With no idea how to work technology, he was still determined to follow through on the charitable commitments he made earlier in the week.
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The 1,000th push-up was just completed when he phoned on ‘Private Number’ and was put out on loudspeaker to close out the show. “That’s showbiz baby” as he once famously remarked as one of the biggest personalities in Irish sport brought down the curtain on events.
Racing journalist Johnny Ward spiced things up before the off when offering odds of 20/1 to a friend on the challenge being completed and got badly stung – sorry for your troubles Johnny – and a memorable night was capped with steak, chips, a can of 7-Up and copious amounts of liquorice to celebrate.
Making the back page of today’s Irish Independent was the Creme de la Menthe – as Del Boy Trotter would say – of the whole thing as people’s kindness shone bright in the hardest of times and faith in human kind was well and truly restored.
With over €15,000 already raised, let’s give one last push to collect as much as possible for PPE for HSE staff and treatment for one year-old Dan Donoher, click here to donate.
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