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.

 

 

 

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.

What exactly is SADS?

Aside

What Exactly is SADS?

As part of my job in CRY I visit a lot of schools, universities, workplaces and community centres to educate people on Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) and the work that our charity CRY does. I find on my visits that a lot of people are not quite sure what is involved when someone dies from SADS. So I thought this would be a good topic to talk about and I promise to keep this as simple as possible. I am not a medical professional either so I will have to keep it as simple as possible!

The best way to describe what happens to the heart when someone dies from SADS is to compare it to when you switch off a light – the heart literally stops. It’s not like a heart attack, which can be more gradual. It is for this reason that the person has very little time to be resuscitated by a defibrillator. I suppose another comparison would be to a car battery. You need that jolt from the defibrillator to get the heart going again. Unfortunately a defibrillator does not always work and mouth to mouth resuscitation does not work in this case. Even so, it is so important for defibrillators to be available in as many public places as is possible to give an individual the best chance of survival.

A lot of young people who die from this seem to be normal active people. But there are symptoms that you can look out for- chest pains, palpitations (please note these are very common and can be caused for a variety of reasons), fainting and seizures during exercise and shortness of breath during exercise. But the biggest thing to look out for is a family history of someone dying suddenly at a young age and for someone within your family living with a heart condition. There is a lot more detail on this on our website http://www.cry.ie/index.php/need-help/information.

Many people associate SADS with sports and it is a misconception that sport can cause this condition. People who die from SADS already have a heart condition which, in the majority of cases, they do not know about. Sport generally increases the work that the heart has to do, so can increase the incidents of sudden death during a period of intense activity.

If you feel you need to be screened because there is a family history or you suffer from any of the symptoms above, contact your GP and if they feel it is necessary they can refer you on to the CRYP Screening Centre. Please note the majority of families that the centre sees have a family history of SADS. For further information check out our website at http://www.cry.ie/index.php/need-help/information. I hope this has been helpful in giving you a better understanding of what SADS is.

Orla Durkan – Fundraising Manager

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.

CRY – How we started

CRY SADS Screening Centre

CRYP Screening Centre at Tallaght Hospital

As part of my role in CRY I am out and about at fundraisers, meetings etc. representing the charity.

I am constantly being asked-how did the charity come about, who started it? Hence, I thought this would be a good place to start for my first ever blog for CRY!

For me to tell the story would not do it any justice – the best way to hear the story would be to watch the video that we feature on our website

Marie Greene recounts how her youngest son Peter died suddenly at the age of 15. As a result of Peter’s death, Michael and Marie Greene soon came to realise that there was very little support for families that have lost a young person to sudden adult death syndrome in Ireland.

There was no one to talk to about the grief they were experiencing. Yes, there was grief counselling services out there, but none that specialised in losing someone so young, so suddenly, to a heart condition they didn’t even realise they had.

There was also the issue of getting the rest of the family screened – they had been told at the time that there could be an instance where other members of the family may have a similar condition.

In order to get everyone screened they would have to do this privately and it would be very expensive. As they looked into the SADS condition they soon came to realise that there was very little information out there in the public realm.

Hence, they decided to start the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young to help other families so they could receive the support that the Greene family did not get when their son Peter died.

CRY originally started out by raising awareness for Sudden Adult Death Syndrome as well as providing a free counselling service to families and friends who had lost a young person to sudden cardiac death.

The team from the charity set up a network of Volunteers, who themselves had lost someone to SADS so at least those requiring support were assured that they were talking to someone who understood what they were going through.

Five years after the charity was started CRY managed to raise enough money to establish a specialised screening centre based out in Tallaght Hospital.

This screening centre now sees between 1500-2000 patients yearly – from families all over Ireland. CRY fundraises to ensure this is a free service for families so they do not have to go to the expense of getting this done privately and ability to pay is never an obstacle to getting access to essential services.

The centre has now developed into one of the most comprehensive screening services in Ireland that is cardiologist lead.

Because of Michael and Marie’s efforts, they have ensured that families going through what they experienced now have a lot more structure and support to help them through what is probably the toughest experience of their lives.

Michael Greene is the Chairman of our charity and Marie is head of counselling and family support.

I see the incredible work that they do and they both work tirelessly as volunteers.

I am proud to work as the Fundraising Manager for this incredible charity and am privileged to see the huge difference that is being made to so many lives on an ongoing basis.

Orla Durkan – Fundraising Manager

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