How the CRYP Centre Helped Me by Fintan O’Mahony

Love___Heart_of_hearts_042863_It’s been a busy few months. I’m getting two weeks off from Wednesday, which is welcome I suppose. Where this all began is with an appointment at the CRYP centre in Tallaght hospital to get my three girls, and me, checked for any irregularities in our hearts. We were monitored, scanned, I ran farther on a treadmill than,  it is safe to say, I have run in quite sometime and were sent home with Holter monitors to wear over night.

Actually, it didn’t begin with that at all. It began in the summer of 2006 when, while on holiday in Killarney with my wife and then only one daughter we got a phone call nobody would wish on his worst enemy: my brother had been found dead in his apartment in Dublin. Conor had been treated for a heart problem for years before and now at 32 he was gone, it’s defined our family since.

So when the doctor called to say my Holter monitor showed a pause of five and a half seconds around five am (in other words my heart stopped) I was pretty calm. The kids were all fine and I knew Conor had had pauses of up to eight seconds so I didn’t panic. Then I asked the doctor what we should do about it and she said she’d like me to get a pacemaker.

A pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device into your chest, to help your heart beat regularly, you know that. The surgery is minor, I only get a local anesthetic and I’ll be awake while it’s done. It’s preventative, it’s to make sure I motor on, but it’s my heart and that’s crucial to understanding the nerves that go with this operation.

When I was a kid I was a pretty good athlete, a sprinter and middle distance runner for most of my teens, I think it’s safe to say that girls and school got in the way and I drifted away from it. I still feel my heart beating as I won my first All-Ireland medal, it was fine and regular when I came off the bend in a 200 metre sprint, but when I saw the line and no-one ahead of me, there was a quickening, when I saw my brothers and parents that’s when it almost burst out of my chest. Or when I saw my wife in Holycross Abbey on our wedding day, or when each of my three children was born, that’s when I remember my heartbeat. So the way I think of having a pacemaker fitted isn’t as the end of something, just a little bionic kick to make sure I can have more of those moments, though I’m not planning on running 200 metres, or getting married again (or having any more kids!).

At CRY they have a big family tree for us, on a huge spreadsheet. I imagine there’s a code for checked and clear, one for checked and operated on, one for the next world. A death in the family isn’t easy, a young death is a shadow hanging over you for ever. That’s what CRY is for, making sure the shadow doesn’t spread. My Dad has raised huge money for them over the years, they exist on donations which is criminal when there is such a need for the service they provide.

So. That’s it. I’m not allowed to drive, but I can, write and tweet. If you’re thinking of helping a charity cry.ie is a good choice.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact lebbs@cry.ie or check our website.

New York City Triathalon by Ben Duffy

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I hadn’t heard of many people taking part in the NYC Triathlon but from what I read online there are 2 things about this race. The effort that is required in order to get to the start line alone is nearly a mini triathlon in itself and out of a lot of the triathlons out there this is a must do race. Having completed this race and joined the class of 2014 I can safely say that if you get a chance you have got to do it.

Very early on after signing up to the race I knew I wanted to run it for charity. I chose 2, both of which have had some impact on me so I wanted to give back, CRY Ireland and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

Something I didn’t appreciate before flying over to NYC from Ireland is the logistics of sourcing equipment 24hrs before the race and being punctual for the official sign in, NYC is a massive city so I managed to get a bike and make it to registration before it closed.

Pre-Race, Sunday Having gone to bed at 11pm and not really slept I was up at 3am and out of the room by 4am, so as you can imagine I wasn’t feeling too fresh and geared up for the race. We made it by taxi to the transition area and I laid out my gear that I would use to complete the other disciplines throughout the race. It was a bit of a walk from the transition area to the swim start, I overheard someone say it was 1.5miles.

Swim I was one the last groups in the water which meant I didn’t get going to until 8:00am. After the race started I made sure I worked my way to the front of the corral (group) so I didn’t have to swim over all of those first-timers. It worked out great. The current was really strong, and it was in our favour.  To my complete surprise, the Hudson River was absolutely pristine. The strong current made for an interesting swim.  I wanted to use it as much as I could, so I didn’t push too hard.  It was actually difficult to tell how much effort I was putting in because I was moving so quickly.  In hindsight, I probably could have gone a little harder.

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Bike I thought Manhattan was flat, I was wrong.  As I started at the back there were a lot of riders ahead of me which gave me great confidence passing them out. I managed to find a good path and stayed clear of most riders for the best part of the bike. The hills weren’t really steep they just kept coming, and some seemed to go on for a while. I rode at a steady effort, as I didn’t want to burn too many calories. Although it is nice to be in the front end of a race, you can easily lose your sense of your effort.
 

Run
The transition areas are located in Riverside Park, a place I got to know very well as I made that walk to and from quite a bit throughout the duration of the pre / post race. The one thing I completely forgot about was the 15% grade hill leading out of the park, running when you get off a bike is hard enough, add a crazy hill climb and you’ll most certainly have jelly for legs.

The majority of the run is based in Central Park but when you finally make it up that hill and you get onto 72nd street, it was a great feeling, nothing like I’d experienced before, running in the streets of NYC. When I finally made it to Central park the sun began to warm up and I really began to feel the effects of the course.

I finished with a time of 2:37:41, which I was very happy about. 2 people who I forgot to mention are my girlfriend Sarah and one of my good friends Brettzer, who lives in NYC, Brettzer for putting both myself and Sarah up for a few nights, and Sarah for generally putting up with me throughout the race.

I am happy to say I raised a total of €1500 for my selected charities and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated, I know it means a lot to the charities and also to me.

NYC Tri

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact lebbs@cry.ie or check our website.

 

 

 

My Rio World Cup Journey by Michael Griffin

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I travelled to Rio to experience the atmosphere of the World Cup and brought my Na Gaeil GAA jersey with me with the intention of getting a few autographs (maybe two or three) and if I got more I would sell/auction it to charity. Luckily it quickly became five, six etc. and when I managed to get Diego Maradona, the most talked about World Cup legend ever, it really gave me motivation and confidence to get more. When it became known at home through the media what was happening it really took off and I put myself under pressure to achieve more for the selected charity. The selected charity being CRY –Cardiac Risk in the Young. I choose CRY for a few reasons. I wanted a young people’s charity, I wanted a small charity that would really benefit from the funds and because cardiac risk is so prominent in sport, CRY stood out to be a perfect fit. The following piece is a short insight on how I made the impossible possible.

Here is the list of 24 players that signed the jersey. This list is composed of 5 World Cup winners including 2 captains and 4 Champions League winners.

Leighton Baines, Leroy Fer, Michael Vorm, Tim Krul, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Danny Murphy, Robbie Savage, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Roberto Martinez, Santiago Solari, Ian Wright, Diego Maradona, Gary Lineker, Martin O Neill, Patrick Vieria, Fabio Cannavaro, Gordan Strachan, Phil Neville, David Trezeguet, Alan Shearer, Christan Vieri, Jamie Carragher, Mesult Ozil, Zico

All players were very obliging and willing to sign and take a selfie. Security with most former players was not an issue. For example in relation to Diego Maradona a number of security guys were helping me find a way in without getting themselves in trouble. The first autograph I got on the jersey was English player Leighton Baines. The hotel was closely guarded but I decided to walk in anyway and when I entered I saw Baines and quickly took advantage, he obliged signed and posed for a photo. I was then escorted from the hotel.

The following day I made my way to Ipanema beach and luckily came across the Netherlands team hotel, the team were leaving the hotel to make they’re way to the training ground and I wriggled my way through to get a few more autographs from the likes of Leroy Fer, Michael Vorm, Tim Krul the star penalty stopper and Klaas Jan Huntelaar the former Real Madrid striker.

I realised early on that I had a knack of figuring out where players could be, what time of the day, where they are staying and I had confidence in myself that I would find more. Danny Murphy the former Liverpool star was the first to help me in a way after I asked him and explained the jersey and charity idea. He gave me hints as to where some players were at certain times and near the end he was probably sick of me because I was bumping into him so often which was all by chance.

One day stood out more than others. I managed to come across Danny Murphy and Robbie Savage doing media work on the beach and after having some craic and recording an interview with them I made my way towards the hotels and bumped into Manchester United legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Van Nistelrooy was so obliging and after explaining the charity idea he called two more friends in for a selfie including current Everton boss Roberto Martinez and former Real Madrid star Santiago Solari. I met Marcelo (my Brazilian host) for lunch and he mentioned that he read Maradona was in town. I said what an autograph that would be, so, with some help from a friend of Marcelo’s we took a road trip with a 5% chance of meeting Maradona, it was enough for me. Kerrymen are known for being cute so I used this cuteness to charm my way to meeting one of the greatest player ever, certainly the most talked about ever Diego Maradona.
Even-though it sounds like work, I loved every minute of the rush and meeting the players. The BBC and ITV had studios at the end of Copacabana beach. The first group matches of the day started at 1pm and at 12pm. One afternoon I decided to sit outside the media centre to see what happens. Within minutes I met Gary Lineker, Patrick Vieria, Martin O Neill and Gordan Strachan and later Phil Neville, David Trezeguet and Christan Vieri. During my travels I visited Flamengo football club and happened to bump into Jamie Carragher the former Liverpool icon who was very polite.

Social media also became my friend, especially twitter. Fabio Cannavaro the Italian World Cup winning captain is a regular tweeter. He tweeted a photo of himself on the beach wearing a tweed hat, similar to a tweed hat I later bought myself and I recognised the background. I was having lunch at the time and quickly paid my bill and ran to where he was. He again was very kind and was impressed with the idea and the jersey.

There is a very well-known hotel in Rio called Fasano. I was sitting at the bar drinking a coke, yes a coke, and nibbling on some nuts when in walked Cannavaro whom I already had met along with Danny Murphy and Alan Shearer. Murphy commented “are you still here” and Shearer took time to sign the jersey and pose for a photo.

I was lucky enough to have the honour of attending a World Cup Final. The atmosphere was one highlight but another was getting so close to the winning team Germany after the match that I could smell the hard work. One man was particularly memorable and that was Arsenal star Mesult Ozil. He signed the shirt and doodled on my neck in the process, the media had a field day and I ended up live on Argentine television I was later informed.

The jersey and trip was a huge success but I was missing one thing…a Brazilian autograph.. Zico was without doubt the most talked about legend aka Brazilian footballer in Rio, mainly because he was the most successful Flamengo fc player. Flamengo being the most popular club in Rio. I received information that Zico had a football academy not too far from Rio therefore I decide to act on it  After gracefully avoiding security I met a man who directed me to the president of the clubs office. I explained my situation and he hit me with some bad news. Zico was in Sao Paulo and was travelling to Japan in the morning. I was very disappointed but…this “but” is positive for a change. Bruno the president said he might be meeting him in between flights and hopefully he can help. It was my final day in Brazil and I decided to contact Bruno which was planned. Marcelo aided me and rang Bruno Coimbra, recognising the name he realised it was Zico’s son. Bruno was very kind and sent on images of Zico signing the jersey. I was ecstatic. I achieved what people and I would have thought was the impossible over an unbelievable six week period. What an experience.

The Jersey will be auctioned for CRY this Friday 22nd August on ebay-

Mike Griffin’s Jersey Auction for CRY

To view Michael’s video of his world Cup experience check out his video.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact me or check our website.

 

 

 

The Camino by Brendan O’Mahony

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Brendan O’Mahony wrote the book Forever Young for his late son Conor. See his post from March titled Forever Young. Brendan has signed up to walk the Camino for CRY again in September. Here are some extracts about the Camino de Santiago.

 

The Camino.

On July 17th 2010, I walked the Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago (120km) in Spain. The walk was in memory our son Conor who was 32 when he died of (SCD) on July 25th. 2006. Holy Year was to be celebrated in Santiago on July 25th the same day as Conor’s anniversary. At a family gathering we decided we would raise sponsorship for CRY. Cry are organising a walk on the  Camino Frances (French Way ) in September next which offers an opportunity to anyone interested in walking the Camino and raising sponsorship to join in. (Details on the CRY Website http://www.cry.ie). I would urge anyone with a reasonable level of fitness to go. The rewards are immence.

 

We are told that walking is good for us.  I can confirm that walking the Camino in particularly is good and is a unique and rewarding experience. While you are walking you will have time to think, reflect, assess and walk! The mantra of the Camino is : Eat, walk, sleep. But I found it much more than that. I had a reason for walking, and though I didn’t set out to be a pilgrim, I became one along the way.

 

A little history of The Camino. Pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, from Ireland began in the 12th century. In 1147 crusaders en route to the Holy Land, helped the king of Portugal to reconquer Lisbon from the Moors. They then  visited the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. While The Hundred Years War raged between France and England during the 14th and 15th centuries, Irish pilgrims travelled to Santiago by boat. There were voyages from Dublin and Dingle, where a plaque on the quay records pilgrim departures. The presence of Irish pilgrims in Santiago is well-documented

 

The Camino de Santiago is a dynamic mixture of legend and fact. St. James, whose shrine is at Santiago, was the brother of John the Evangelist. They were fishermen, the sons of Zebedee, partners with Simon Peter, and called by Jesus to join him while mending their nets beside the Sea of Galilee. It’s said that Jesus nicknamed them ‘the sons of thunder’ – justified by the story that they once wished to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village which had refused them hospitality. James and John were present at the raising of Jairus’s daughter and were at the Sermon on the Mount. They are recorded as being with Peter, at the Transfiguration. James was also in The Garden of Gethsemane during the passion of Christ. They were also among those gathered in the upper room after the ascension

 

Santiago is known as James the Great and when the Apostles divided the known world into missionary zones, The Iberian Peninsula fell to James. Spain was a well-established in the Roman world. When he returned to the Holy Land he was beheaded by Herod Agrippa 1. According to legend, Santiago’s disciples took his body back to Spain after his death. During the voyage, a ship is said to have miraculously appeared, and an angel guided them. They buried the saint in the area known as Compostela, ‘the field of stars,’ and Santiago lay here, for eight centuries.

 

The rediscovery of the saint’s long-forgotten tomb in the 9th Century occurred in a time of great need for Spanish Catholics. They had suffered many defeats at the hands of the Muslims, until Santiago became their inspiration. The pivotal event in – came in the battle of Clavijo in 844. The night before the battle, Santiago appeared in a dream to King Ramirez of Castile, and promised him victory. The next day, the warrior-saint is said to have appeared on the battlefield in full armour riding on a white charger, with a sword in one hand and a banner in the other. The Christians won a decisive victory.Contemporaries were in no doubt that Santiago had appeared because he left behind impressions of scallop shells (his symbol as the pilgrim saint) on the rocks in the field and even on the local houses.

 

 King Alfonso II declared Santiago the patron of Spain in 1492. He worked to publicise the Camino to attract Christians to his territory. And so the pilgrimages began. The Camino became an important path for Catholic indulgences and total absolution from sin, reaching its greatest point of popularity during the Middle Ages.

You can read Brendan O’Mahony’s book called Forever Young – contact CRY to buy a copy.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact me or check our website.

 

 

 

Forever Young

My name is Brendan O’Mahony. I met my wife Margaret when working in Aer Lingus. We married in 1969 and moved back to my home town and bought a Travel Agency. We had four sons, Fintan, Conor, Kevin and Brian – all Liverpool fans ! Fintan is a teacher, Kevin in Managing Director of Clonmel Travel and Brian works at the IMI in Sandyford. Conor studied languages at UCD and spoke fluent French and Spanish. He got a Masters degree in Portuguese from SalfordUniversity. In May 2004 he joined Pfizer in Dublin.

The world changed forever for our family on July 25th 2006. Conor had gone to play football. He returned to his apartment in Bettyglen and died from SCD. He was 32. When Conor was small his favourite question was ‘what if ? It wasn’t until after college in UCD, that ‘what if’ changed to ‘why not?’ and this new perspective on life allowed him to travel the world. But he was happiest when he was sitting in the family Nissan Sunny (with six on board)  ‘navigating’  on driving holidays through France and Spain. Singing along to ‘Is it Raining In Paris Tonight’  by Bagatelle.

In 1995 he spent the summer on a scholarship at the the University of Lisbon and he left home to work at Whirlpool in Dublin in 1996. He spent five years in their Spanish and Portuguese financial sections. He left Whirlpool in 2002. He then took a year off and travelled round the world chronicling his travels weekly in the Clonmel Nationalist. He joined Xerox in 2003 and he was chuffed when he was headhunted by Pfizer when they opened their new European Financial Shared Services Centre in Dublin in 2004

One of his colleagues, who was bereaved, wrote on his Mass card: ‘On my darkest day, Conor’s smile lit up my life’. Just when it looked like canonisation was on the cards his manager at Pfizer told how they had a swear box in the office and they had put it on Conor’s desk for his convenience!

When he took off around the world his father and mother made him promise that he would not bungee jump as they considered it too dangerous. He kept that promise about not bungee jumping but he had a ironic and  perhaps even a fatalistic view on life. In his last article from abroad he informed all and sundry, including his unsuspecting parents, that he had signed 14 waiver forms during his trip round the world, absolving the organisers of liability in case he was injured or killed. He referred to the forms as ‘send the bits to Clonmel forms’

Conor is back home now, Clonmel was always home. He accomplished  a lot in his short life. People will tell you that time will heal our loss but it doesn’t! We are still learning to live with it. Conor’s fourth anniversary co-incided with Holy Year 2010 in Santiago de Compostela. I walked the Camino Ingles in Conor’s memory and raised funds for CRY. In 2012 the book  Forever Young commemorated  the Camino walk and Conor’s Round the World journey and the proceeds went to CRY.

My first contact with CRY was with Lucia Ebbs n 2010 and she has been a constant support to our family since – thank you Lucia.

The importance of the work done by CRY is inestimable. It’s life saving. Our three boys and our six grandchildren have benefited from screening at CRY. And it’s my hope that many other will continue to benefit from their service

Brendan O’Mahony.

 

SADS & Sports – Is there a link between the two?

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There is a common misconception that by playing sport, particularly at a very high level, this can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It is not surprising as in the last ten years we have seen some very high profile sports people who have been affected by Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Within the GAA community, Cormac MacAnallen’s death had a profound affect on a lot of people. Cormac was only 24, in the prime of his fitness and the captain of the Tyrone team. He died suddenly in his sleep on 2nd March 2004 (thecormactrust.com). More recently the young Dublin football under 21’s player Ciaran Carr collapsed while training on the pitch on 20th January 2012 and sadly died (ciarancarrfoundation.ie). Both players would have had an underlying heart condition that they were not aware of. By playing sport, this accelerated the condition (as you are putting extra strain on the heart), however, it did not cause them to collapse.

People who have heart conditions carry a slightly higher risk of sudden death during periods of fairly intensive activity than at other times. This is why as a precaution, if someone is diagnosed with a cardiac disorder they will often be advised to avoid competitive sport or endurance training as this can bring on heart failure.

Thankfully if the right equipment is nearby you can survive a Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  The Bolton player Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch while playing against Spurs in White Hart Lane on 17th March 2012. Muamba’s heart stopped for an alarming 78 minutes and thanks to a defibrillator and the medical team nearby he survived. He has now made a full recovery. However, because of his heart condition he has had to retire from the game. Just recently CRY were delighted when the Dublin minor hurler Cormac Ryan undertook a cycle around Ireland for three charities including ours. Cormac was lucky that he discovered that he had a heart condition before anything serious happened. He is an amazing young man and is a great example of how to live well with a heart condition.

The Dublin senior football player Michael Darragh Macauley was recently screened  at the CRYP Centre in Tallaght Hospital. Thankfully he received a clean bill of health and according to Dr. Ward, he has a beautiful heart – some of the ladies may agree with this! Check out the segment below from Ireland AM.

http://www.tv3.ie/3player/show/184/0/0/Ireland-AM

Orla Durkan, CRY Ireland.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact me or check our website.

Geraldine’s Story

When the fun loving, sporty and mischievous fifteen year old George left for school on 2nd June 2004 little did we know that we had just had our last meal as a family of five. George, the youngest of three boys, left as usual in high spirits. Summer was coming, he had hopes of winning the 1,500 metres on sports day the following Friday and his head was buzzing with exciting holiday plans.

George was a picture of health, so when he collapsed and died while playing rounders at lunchtime that day, surrounded by his teachers and classmates, there was shock and devastation all round.

Niall Gilhooly, one of Georges friends, phoned his mother to tell her the terrible news;

” George is dead and I don’t know what to do.”

But the fourteen year old instinctively knew exactly what to do, Niall and his friends set about supporting each other and George’s family.

These youngsters were an extraordinary support to our family, arriving at our home unannounced, bringing their stories and ‘life’ to our saddened household. The ease with which these young people brought their support is hard to credit. It became a case of ‘everyone getting through this dreadful time for everyone else’. It all came out of love for George and respect for his memory.

As the years have unfolded our family have remained close to all of these youngsters. In a strange way it keeps George alive and these young teenagers, now young adults, have become lifelong family friends.

Recently Niall, now teaching in Australia, sent an extremely generous donation to CRY Ireland in memory of his friend. George obviously continues to be very much in his thoughts. He didn’t want a fuss or thanks; as always Niall moves quietly. However my husband Maurice and my two sons and I were overcome by his generosity and would like to take this opportunity to thank Niall for his kindness and friendship to us and to George and to thank a young man for the maturity and respect he displayed at one of the most difficult times of all our lives .

As I have mentioned, Niall is now teaching in Australia and I cannot imagine a more suitable candidate to become the mentor of young people.

Enclosed is a photo of George taken the December before he died and, on a happier note, a more recent photo of just a few of George’s wonderful friends taken at my eldest son’s wedding last summer.

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Geraldine Fitzgerald, 18th October 2013.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact me or check our website.