Charity cycle in Eglinton to remember David and Kevin
Two local men who died suddenly from heart conditions will be remembered at a charity event on St. Patrick's Day in Eglinton.
The March 17th charity cycle will remember Kevin King, who played for St Mary’s GAC, Slaughtmanus, who died on November 3, 2016, aged 22.
The cycle will also remember David Smyth from Eglinton who died on March 27th, 2016.
Mr. Smyth had taken part in the cycle last year, but fell ill afterwards.
Ken Curry, the event organiser, said this year’s cycle, which starts from Eglinton, will, hopefully, draw strong support and raise awareness.
All funds raised from the cycle will go to the N. Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke and the British Heart Foundation.
“We’ve been doing this for seven years and we have always supported charities and over the last couple of years we supported Jennifer Smyth. I knew David, Jennifer’s father well. We were good pals and when he died it was such a shock,” said Ken.
“David was one of the most upbeat, jolly guys I knew. He was always smiling and was brilliant company and was totally devoted to his children, Jennifer and Christopher.
“We had originally planned to do the cycle in David’s memory for Chest Heart and Stroke. Then, tragically, Kevin King passed away. I knew Kevin to see but my partner knew him.
“I thought then we could do the cycle in memory of both David and Kevin.
“I knew his family were fundraising for the British Heart Foundation and when I contacted them they were glad to get involved.”
In recent years, the cycle has supported Jennifer Smyth from Eglinton. Jennifer suffered a devastating injury
following a gymnastics accident.
Determined to walk again, Jennifer and her family fundraised so she could attend a specialist programme in America, which she did. At the cycle last year, her dad David was among those who took part. Tragically, he died just over a week later.
David’s wife, Pamela Smyth said: “David took part in the last two cycles for Jennifer so it’s only right that we take part in this one in his memory with proceeds going to NICHS.
“We will also be remembering Kevin King, a young man from our community who died suddenly in November.
“Other than walking the dog - I am a bit of a couch potato - so this will be taking me way out of my comfort zone but with Jennifer as an example, I can hardly complain.
“We had great craic at the last cycle, so any support to make new memories and raise money for two great causes this year will be very much appreciated.”
Jennifer Smyth, a student at Birmingham City University, is making a remarkable recovery from the horrific injuries to her neck sustained after coming off a vault in the gym in September 2014. She said she knows her dream of walking again will come true and has managed to take steps on her own, without assistance.
The 19-years-old said she misses her daddy terribly and never thought when they took part in the cycle last year, things would be so different now.
“I can’t believe it’s been a year,” said the Product Design student who hopes people will support the event.
“Dad had no symptoms, so this will raise awareness which is a good thing,” added Jennifer.
Kevin King’s parents, Margaret and John hope the event will raise awareness about heart disease.
Margaret King said: “We really miss him, and it won’t bring Kevin back to us but, hopefully, it will help some other person and family. It’s just awful that Kevin had to die to find out what was wrong with him.”
Margaret said, along with her sister Kathleen, she will walk rather than cycle on the day.
The family have since set up a fund in Kevin’s memory for the British Heart Foundation raising more than £12,000 with donations still coming in.
“We have been overwhelmed with the support since Kevin died. People are so good.
“I can’t even find the words to explain it. It’s just unbelievable how everyone has come together,” said Margaret.
John King, who will do the cycle, hopes there will be a good turnout.
“Slaughtmanus GAC club members will be taking part and we’re trying to get as many people out as possible.
“It’s also a bit of fun, a way to get some exercise and raise awareness.
“Everyone is more than welcome,” said John, who added: “It’s devastating when you lose your child, but we are determined to keep Kevin’s memory alive.”
The cycle leaves The Happy Landing Bar & Restaurant in Eglinton at 8.30 a.m. on St Patrick’s Day and makes it way to Fahan Village and back to Eglinton.
“It’s not a huge distance but it’s a great day of fun.
“Over the past few years we have raised between £15,000 and 20,000,” explained Mr. Curry.
“It’s my birthday on St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll be 57. The first year I did it I asked for 50 people to raise £50 and cycle 50 miles for my 50th.
“This year we’re looking to raise as much as possible and remember David and Kevin and it’s a chance for the community to show their support for both families.”