My Rio World Cup Journey by Michael Griffin

Rose of Tralee Football _CB (2)

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.

 

 

 

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

muamba22-e6547533cda42784123850f003a2711eb20987ee-s4-c85

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.

george    2475_04Aug2012JS

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.

Seán

sean

My son, Seán, died of SADS in the early hours of 17 October 2010, at home. He was 19 years old. His mother, Pauline, and his sister, Susanna (aged 16 at the time), were away for the weekend. It was a strange and terrible day, and it kicked off what has been the strangest few years of our lives.

We are a close family – we supported each other in a time of raw emotions and disbelief, and we had wonderful support from extended family, neighbours, friends and our local community. Sean, of all people, had seemed much too alive to die, yet we found ourselves living through his wake and funeral, and the aftermath – as well as the concurrent ‘Big Freeze’, which made everything seem even more unreal.

It was particularly difficult for Susanna, who had just entered her Leaving Cert year at the time of Sean’s death. She coped then and has coped ever since – she is now in France, in the third year of a degree course – but coping took its toll, as it did on Pauline and me. Pauline went back to work very soon after Sean died, and I continued with my freelance editorial work from home, as I still do. Just getting around was extremely difficult that winter – we live in a fairly remote rural area. The world seemed to have lost its bearings. As Bob Marley sang in a song that Sean loved, everything had changed – nothing remained the same.

Contact with CRY was hugely helpful for us. There was the relief of being screened for potential heart problems and given the ‘all clear’; also, the cause of Sean’s death was explained clearly to us for the first time. Susanna in particular has benefited from ongoing help and support from CRY, which is a wonderful organization.

For me, coping included writing a blog and songs. Pauline ‘bought into’ what I was writing, and found it helpful. She and I often sang some of the songs together in the evenings. Sean’s birthdays and anniversaries have been emotional, although really we think of him all the time – if he is not at the front of our minds at any given time, then he is certainly at the back of them. For his 21st birthday we organized a night of music in the local pub, at which some of Sean’s and our friends and local musicians performed. It was a great success, and we raised some money for CRY.

Other people move on with their lives, naturally – Sean’s friends, for example. It has been more difficult for Sean’s girlfriend, Clio, and for us. On some levels we move on, but on others we do not, and never will. But we don’t feel sorry for ourselves: we know that many other people have had to face equal, or even worse, trauma.

Healing takes a long time, and can only be partial. Heartache persists. We love Sean, and Sean is gone – though often we feel that he is still around, watching over us and helping us when we need help. I certainly feel that way. We are still standing, and we are resilient.

Brendan O’Brien – 20th September 2013

The O’Brien Family featured on Nationwide on 18th September-http://www.rte.ie/player/show/10199932/

You can also watch Brendan’s song “Seán and Clio in the snow” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niTFyZmZg1I

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 CRYP Screening Centre…Not Just Any Screening Centre

One of the main forms of fundraising within CRY is done by the families throughout Ireland that have attended the Free Screening Service in the CRYP Centre in Tallaght Hospital.  One of the main reasons these families fundraise for CRY is because they have received such a brilliant service in the centre, that they feel they want to give back to say thank you and to also ensure that this vital service is kept open. Not many people know about the ins and outs of the CRYP Centre, so I thought I would write a few lines on it this week.

The centre is run by Consultant Cardiologist Dr. Deirdre Ward, along with her support team Helen Connaughton (Clinical Nurse II), Alison Storey (Cardiac Technician) and Deborah Blackburn (Administrative Support). One of the things that I constantly hear from families that I meet is that they receive such a warm reception in the centre and that it is different to a lot of other hospital visits you might experience. This is so lovely to hear as many of these families have been through a lot as the result of loosing a young person at a young age to SADS so really need to be treated with kid gloves.

The team at the CRYP Centre tries to facilitate families by seeing all of them within the one day if possible as a lot of them are travelling up from different parts of the country. They are put through a wide range of tests (details are on http://www.cry.ie/index.php/need-help/cryp-screening-centre/cardiac-screening-tests) and once everything has been completed, they are given their results at the end of the day by Dr. Ward. This is one of the most comprehensive screening services you will find in Ireland that is lead by such an experienced cardiologist and the great thing about it is that it is free. Unfortunately though, there are waiting lists because of limited funds. However, if we in CRY work towards increasing the fundraising we do, this would mean the waiting lists would be reduced and patients will receive an even better service than they are already receiving.

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.

Lucia Ebbs of CRY – My Story

I have worked with Michael Greene, Chairman of CRY since the late 80s.  I was his PA in HomeBond.  I was working with Michael when his son Peter died suddenly in 1996 and saw the heartbreak and devastation it caused. When Michael and Marie started up CRY I did the paperwork & admin to help.

It became personal to me on 22nd of May 2002 when my niece Jenny O’Riordan died suddenly.  Jenny (Jenny Jewel to the family) was my sister Kate and her husband Jerry’s only daughter.

Jenny had spent one summer in HomeBond – she called it her ‘summer job’ in her gap year.  Michael got to know Jenny well and he supported her after she returned to college and completed her Masters.  She went on to work with KPMG (now known as BearingPoint) and spent two years there as a Consultant and loved every minute of it making great friends. She particularly loved the location and couldn’t have been any happier there – unless they could have moved closer to Grafton Street for the endless shopping.  BT must have had a drop in cosmetic sales that summer!

Jenny died suddenly on 22nd May 2002 from Cardiomyopathy on her father’s 50th birthday.  I will never forget the call – I was just in the door from a holiday and Kate called to say Jenny had been taken to Blanchardstown Hospital.  I collected Kate and we drove to the hospital but I think I knew at the time that she would be dead when we arrived, she was.   Jenny had died while sitting with her best friend Sinead O’Brien– looking at booking flights for a holiday. 

Jenny’s sudden death devastated all of our lives but especially Kate, Jerry and her brother JJ – she was 26, beautiful, bright, kind and had so much to live for.   Her friends and colleagues were heartbroken too.  Time helps you to live with it but you never forget.  Nothing is ever the same and no family event or occasion happens without you knowing someone is missing. Kate now works as a Volunteer with the Charity and will support families affected as she has been.

After Jen’s death Deirdre Hanley of BearingPoint visited Kate at home to sympathise and told her they wanted to do something positive to remember Jen – after that visit we discussed it and Michael met with Deirdre Hanley and CRY’s website was born – BearingPoint still generously host our website and the family take great comfort from that.

I look after the day-to-day admin at the office in the CRYP Screening Centre in Tallaght dealing with families who approach us for help, support or to offer to fundraise.   I understand a little where they are coming from – every story is different and every time I take a call from a bereaved family I understand a little of where they are coming from. 

My own three boys are patients in the CRYP Screening Centre so I understand the concerns of a parent who needs to come to the Centre for screening and the peace of mind that comes with that visit.

Dealing with a bereaved family does not get any easier with time but I hope we are helping families to get some peace of mind and to come to terms with their loss.

Jenny

Jenny O’Riordan

1975-2002

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.