Emmett going the extra miles in Derry and Liverpool for dad Dominic and MND NI

A Derry man is to run ten half-marathons in 10 days for families affected by Motor Neurone Disease after his own father was diagnosed with the life-limiting condition last year.

By Brendan McDaid
Sunday, 5th September 2021, 12:04 pm
Emmett O'Hara with his father Dominic and sister Aimee.
Emmett O'Hara with his father Dominic and sister Aimee.

Emmett O’Hara describes his father as his ‘best friend’ and spoke of how Mr. O’Hara raised him and his sister Aimee after their mother Dolores died from breast cancer 11 years ago.

Dominic O’Hara, who is in his late 50s, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in October last year and Emmett paused his postgraduate teacher training in Liverpool back in January to return home to care for him.

The 23-year-old is hoping the money he raises will help MND NI support other local families in a similar situation and spoke of how he has been blown away by the generosity of local people, having already raised almost £20,000 of his £30,000 target.

Best buddies... Emmett O'Hara with his father Dominic.

The former St Columb’s College pupil from Craigbane will be returning to complete his teacher training studies at Liverpool Hope University this month and will run five of the half marathons in Derry before travelling to Liverpool to undertake the other five. The epic challenge will commence on September 13.

“I have been training for a couple of months, my legs are falling off, really sore, I can’t wait till it’s over!” he laughs, adding: “I’m looking forward to it as well, it will be a big achievement. The fundraising has been brilliant and I just want to thank everyone. A lot of people know my dad, he was a teacher and taught a lot of the Tyrone players at CBS (Christian Brothers School) in Omagh and they sent a video message which was great.”

Speaking about his father’s diagnosis, Emmett said: “We had been trying to get to the bottom of it for a year as he wasn’t himself. When he was diagnosed I knew absolutely nothing about what it was. It was so random, and it’s not even genetic. It came out of nowhere and no-one in our family history has ever had it. I’ve been home since January looking after my dad as a full-time carer. I’m going back to university and then my sister is coming home - she works in Edinburgh - to take over but I’ll still be back home as much as I can and will come back after my course.”

In his Justgivng appeal Emmett also wrought of his devastation: “At the moment I can only look at the situation with frustration, anger and sadness but as my dad has always taught me – you have to look towards the future. My dad is the reason I am here today therefore I feel I must keep pushing on in life in order to make him as proud as possible. To watch my dad lose my mum and keep going to provide me and Aimee with everything he possibly could of is enough and will always be enough, he is an inspiration and I will be forever grateful.

“As I have gotten older, I have realised my dad would have done anything in the world for me and my sister Aimee. With the maturity of getting older you begin to realise it is not the big things in life that matter but the small things such as family, health and happiness.

“I think if I were to give any piece of advice to anyone it would be: the death of a parent could happen at any time and if it hasn’t happened already appreciate the time you have with them even the small moments and take nothing for granted in life because a lot can change within a year.”

Emmett said being able to spend so much quality time with his father this year has been brilliant. “I didn’t think he would be doing as well as he has been,” he said.

And it typical straight-talking dad style, Dominic’s advice to his son was in the run up to his charity challenge- ‘Just don’t be getting injured!’.

Emmett has set up up an Instagram account to record footage and post training updates @Moharasrunformnd.

For anyone wishing to donate or find out more go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emmett-o-hara