This year’s Ballymahon Friends’ of Crumlin (BFC) fundraising event took place on Saturday, June 8, kicking off from Nally’s Spar, Ballymahon, at 12pm.
The fourth annual event of its kind, the 5K Run/Walk/Crawl saw competitors following the scenic canal route around Ballymahon, all in aid of charity. The event came about back in 2016 over a pint in the local Kiernan’s Bar.
BFC chair Paul Kelly told the Leader, “The committee was first set-up in 2016 in Kiernans bar one night over a few pints. A few of us were having a drink and said we would try and raise a few pound, because my grand-daughter was born with a heart condition.
“It was just a spur of the moment decision over a few pints and we kept it going every year since,”
Paul’s granddaughter Grace, daughter to Wayne and Legan woman Melissa and sister to Cian and Senan, was born with multiple heart and lung defects, leading to a considerable amount of time spent receiving treatment and undergoing surgeries in Our Lady's Hospital Crumlin
Paul explained, “Grace has already had four open-heart surgeries and she won’t be four herself until November.
“It all kicked off from that night in Kiernan’s and we have got fierce support from the community. It has been unreal,”
Paul admits that it would ‘take a page’ to list everyone involved on the committee, with up to 100 people selling tickets ahead of the event. He also says it is very touching to see the support received from not only throughout Ireland, but also across the pond, especially as he and his family can see first-hand the good work any funds raised allow the team at Crumlin to provide.
“We have the guts of 100 people selling tickets and that’s from Derry to Cork. We actually have a book of tickets sold in Derry already.” he said.
“It is a massive commitment from everyone. The whole community here have helped out. All of the businesses have jumped on board with prizes. We even get spot prizes from businesses in Cavan, Roscommon, Mullingar, Offaly, Dublin, Laois and more.
“We also have a lot of former footballers living outside of Ballymahon, who have all jumped in to lend a hand. They haven’t forgot where they came from.” Paul remarked.
Such is the dedication of the community to the fundraiser, that two local schools regularly carry out ‘non uniform days’ to raise further funds. This year Forgney National school have raised a total of €120 for Our Lady's Hospital Crumlin, while St Matthew’s Ballymahon will be holding their non-uniform day in the coming weeks. If any other schools would like to do something similar, all they have to do is get in contact with Paul.
Paul said, “They both take part every year and hold a non-uniform day.”
This year the event has gained international attention, with personnel from the 114th Battalion UNIFIL south Lebanon hosting their own run to coincide with the event in Ballymahon, much to the delight of Paul who himself served in Lebanon with the 48th Battalion in 1980 and the 56th in 1984. This separate run was organised by Sgt Fergal McLoughlin and Sgt John McNamee of the 2nd artillery regiment Athlone.
Paul explains, “This year we got a great boost as the 114th Battalion UNIFIL in south Lebanon are doing their own run that morning in Lebanon.
“Fergal would know us and he is from the town. If he was around, he would have been doing it here. But they are going to do their own run out there at 8am that morning, to raise a few more pound. We are going worldwide,” he exclaimed.
The maiden walk/crawl/run took place in the summer of 2016 and the team have since raised in excess of €50,000. Last year’s efforts saw the team raise in excess of €17,000, with a cheque of €15,000 presented to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House presented with a cheque for €2,000. The Ronald McDonald facility offers subsidised rates on accommodation for parents close to the hospital and to date, the team have donated over €4,500 to their cause.
“Initially, we raised €5,000 in our first year. We have now raised over €50,000 and should hit the €60,000 mark this year,” Paul said.
“The funds have helped achieve an awful lot for Crumlin Hospital. They badly need the funds to continue the work they do. When you are up there in Crumlin, it would really open your eyes to see the work they do up there.”
If anyone would like to make a donation, they should contact Paul on 086-3490704 or contact the Ballymahon Friend’s of Crumlin Facebook page.
“Thanks to everyone who has been so good to us over the past four years. We couldn’t have done it without their help.
“People now look forward to it every year and we will continue with it as long as we are able to.” Paul concluded.
The team raised in excess of €17,000 for their efforts this year, though they are still taking donations. A raffle also took place following the completion of the run. The winners are listed below.
Parachute Jump - Joe Forde, Tang
Scenic Flight - Maria Keane, Slanemore, Mullingar
Overnight hotel break - Frank Keegan, Forgney
Nine Arches Voucher - Donal Sullivan, Department of Education
Dashcam - Darren Skelly
Hamper - Florence Bruton
Hamper - Paddy Diffley
Slow Cooker - Michael Curtin, Athlone
Hamper - Lucy Pendergast
Hamper- Grace Kinahan, Colehill
Shirt/Jumper- David Dowler, Moydow
Hamper - Sean Hall
Outdoor Sports Voucher- Gerry Whyte, Legan
Truroe Pet Farm Voucher- Peggy Finlass
Hoodie - Noeleen Duffy, Aughafad
Rustic Inn Voucher - Paul Hughes, Clonard
Bottle Whiskey/ Bottle Wine - Davy Joyce
Bottle Whiskey/ Bottle Wine - Liam Lennon, Keenagh
Bottle Whiskey/ Bottle Wine - Richard Mc Manus, Ballymahon
Voucher - Ann Fox, Derry
Occasions Voucher - Bob Shea, Gurteen