Mary Fitzsimons was remembered by those close to her, her friends, neighbours and those she worked so tirelessly to help at the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre last weekend – as son Ross and friends took on the ‘Shave or Dye’ challenge in Collon to raise money for the charity. It was a most fitting tribute to Mary.
With husband David and son Ross in attendance, Ross and his friends undertook to have their heads shaved or dyed to raise money for the Gary Kelly centre, something Mary did so often in the past herself. This would have made her so very proud.
The event was the brainchild of Megan Walsh, Ross’ girlfriend, who conceived of the idea to remember Mary in a meaningful way and help the charity in doing so. When Megan went to university in Cork in September, she got involved in fundraising down there. Already, before Christmas, she and mum Olivia had a coffee morning for the charity.
“Then she said that she wanted to do Shave or Dye this year as well,” Olivia explains. “Between herself and Ross they got their friends together and cajoled them into either shaving their hair or dying it for the Gary Kelly Centre.
“It just gathered legs after that. They all got their own sponsorship and did it themselves. They’re a great bunch of young people. They got the barber in Collon involved.
“On the day, they shaved eachothers heads and then Warren did the dying. And when they were finished, Warren tidied them up and did a little bit of design on some of the heads.”
In total, 32 people, young and old shaved or dyed their hair for the good cause. Lots of money has been raised and there’s no total yet. Fundraising hasn’t stopped. The GoFundMe page remains open and accepting donations.
“Some of the lads didn’t like the dyed hair so ended up shaving their heads. They got a little bit of extra money from that as well,” Olivia tells LouthNow.ie.
“It was a very positive experience for the young people and they got great support. I think often young people don’t get recognition for doing something like this, such a big event, themselves. Considering it was done in memory of Ross’ mam, she would have been very proud of them all.”
Collon Community Hall was used as the venue and items like buns were donated by SuperValu and Dunne’s Centra in Ardee, for which the organisers are grateful.
“Mary was a lovely woman and definitely would have made a huge impression on anyone she would have crossed paths with. And young lads – hair is very important to them. The village of Collon are great at coming out and supporting things like that.”
The teenagers taking part, Ross’ and Megan’s extended friend group forming the majority of those who beared the razor or dye, attend school in Ardee, Drogheda, Navan – but they all had no issue coming together for their friends – and Mary.
“They all knew Mary so well. It was a great tribute to her,” Olivia added. Ann Tracey from the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre was on hand to support all taking part on Saturday.