Grandad ‘inspiration’ for charity fun run

Meghan Gilleece who is organising a 5k fun run at Stormont for COPD. (2102PG24)

Meghan Gilleece who is organising a 5k fun run at Stormont for COPD. (2102PG24)

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A Limavady woman has described how her “kind and generous” grandad has been the “inspiration” for a charity fun run at Stormont on St. Patrick’s Day.

Megan Gilleece’s grandad, Vinny Donaghy sadly passed away in May and had suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Vincent Donaghey. (2102PG26)

Vincent Donaghey. (2102PG26)

“My grandfather was young, only 67 years old, when he died in May and was very well liked and well known in his hometown of Dungannon,” explained 21-year-old Megan, who is completing an Access Diploma in Limavady College with a view to go on to university. “He was very kind, generous and charitable, and very quiet. He smoked his whole life which contributed to his developing COPD.”

Megan said it was her uncle who came up with the idea for the event because he felt “people don’t know enough” about COPD.

“This was the case when my grandad was diagnosed with the condition; we hadn’t a clue how it would impact on his every day functioning,” said Megan.

“In his younger years, my grandfather was very active and used to walk everywhere but, as his condition worsened, he was only able to walk short distances before becoming out of breath and having to sit down. My grandfather is the inspiration for us organising the 5k run,” said Megan.

Proceeds from the event will go towards the NI Chest Heart and Stroke Association and Megan and her family are hoping for a good turnout.

“I think it’s very important to participate in the event because COPD is a very common illness, the sixth leading cause of death worldwide (the 3rd in the USA) but not very many people know about it. The main incentive behind us organising the run is to raise awareness around its main causes,” she said.

So will Megan being lacing up her trainers and lining up at the start?

“I’m far from sporty, although I love walking my dog, and I’d love to take part, but I have a duty to oversee the run as my role as a marshall!” she said.

However, Megan hopes others will decide to put their best foot forward for the event.

“I would encourage people to take part because it’s for a fantastic cause,” she said. “It’ll be great fun and even if people aren’t exactly sporty, you don’t have to run it, you can walk it, hop it, skip it, whatever you like. Young or old, it’ll be a terrific day, all in all, and a great start to the holiday weekend!”

Megan thanked all the sponsors for the March 17th event, including NI Chest Heart and Stroke Association, Armatile and Mackle Snacks. Registration is at 10am and the race is at 11.30am.

Megan added: “Remember; get into the spirit of St Patrick’s Day. Green is the theme! Entry for the event is £10 and all proceeds go to our sponsor, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Association.”

For information ring 07837820814 or visit the Facebook page – St Patrick’s 5K Fun Run.