This Sunday, the sixth annual family fun run will be held in memory of Tiarnan Levins, who tragically passed away through illness aged just eight in 2012.
Tiarnan died in April 2012, having spent two weeks on the fifth floor of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. His health problems first came to light when he was just 20-months-old, when he began to suffer epileptic seizures. By the age of five, Tiarnan’s health began to deteriorate more rapidly. By the end, he had lost the ability to walk and talk.
In the first outing of the fundraiser back in September 2012, €10,000 was raised. Initial plans were merely to raise enough – €2,400 – for a specialist electric profile bed for the hospital – but after the local community came together to raise over four times that amount, €7,000 was donated to Ardee Hospice Homecare and another €500 was donated to the play therapists area in the hospital.
The bed, which parents John and Rosemary had to rent off the HSE for the duration of Tiarnan’s time in hospital, is a specialist electric profile bed and none were available at the time of Tiarnan’s stay. The beds have electronic control to allow a patient raise their head or legs in order to make themselves more comfortable.
“We started it the first year to get a bed for the Lourdes Hospital and after that people kept asking are we doing it again so we decided to do it a second year. Then, it just went on and on,” John told ThisIsArdee.ie today.
As well as the hospital and the Hospice benefitting, money raised in 2016 also went to towards those living with cerebal palsy in Louth.
Now, the event is held annually to remember Tiarnan and raise vital funds for local organisations that need it. In the first four years, they have raised enough money for four beds and also provided necessary funding for Ardee Hospice Homecare, who also assisted with care for Tiarnan during his illness.
This year, like last year, all funds raised will go towards the Hospice movement in Ardee. With hundreds expected to come out on Sunday and take part, John says the support is very heartening and he says with it, the Tiarnan 5K can go on for many years to come.
“It’s great for a small community, it is,” he told us. “Especially when you don’t ask for a certain price, you give what you can. You get more people to come and give a fiver because in today’s climate, you don’t like to ask for €20 if people don’t have it.
“If people still come to it, it will go ahead,” he says when asked if the event will continue year-on-year. “It will help the Ardee Hospice. They were very good to us and they gave us anything we needed for Tiarnan and this will give back to them as well.”
Speaking to the Mid-Louth Independent in 2014, mum Rosemary said that Tiarnan was a bright and happy child, at odds with the illness he had to live with. “He was a very happy, very pleasant little boy who confronted everything head on,” she said.
“When he lost the ability to walk, he would decide: ‘Well I can roll on the floor so I can get what I want’. He was always the same, a real fighter, he fought to the bitter end and he shocked all the doctors with what he achieved. No matter what was thrown at him he’d get back up and fight until he couldn’t anymore.”
With registration open from 11am, the run gets underway at 12pm. It will begin at Hunterstown Rovers’ Pairc Baile Fiach and make it’s way to Blakestown Cross, Oberstown Cross, Ballapousta and then back to the pitch via Anaglog. Poignantly, the route goes past Ballapousta cemetary, where Tiarnan is buried. All runners, joggers and walkers are welcome to come along.
Rather than ask for a fixed participation fee, those wishing to take part can simply make a donation of their choosing on the day. There will be refreshments afterwards in the clubhouse and medals will be supplied for children taking part, kindly sponsored by Wee County Trophies.
Hunterstown Rovers GFC have been holding Couch To 5K sessions twice weekly since the start of July leading up to Sunday’s Family Fun Run, with all participants set to put their training to the test along the route – all for a great cause.