A Fermanagh man will spend 12 hours running around Derry this Saturday to raise money for the Foyle Hospice.
Tom McGrath, known in New York as Lazarus, who runs his own bar in Manhattan will be in Derry at the weekend for the premier of a film about his life ‘Every Five Minutes’ which is being broadcast as part of the Foyle Film festival.
But beginning on Saturday morning Tom will run continuously around the Peace Bridge and Foyle Bridge.
Tom will run the first two hours alone but for the next ten hours will be accompanied each hour by members of Derry’s running clubs and members of the public.
There are still some slots available for local people who wish to run with Tom and support him on Saturday while raising much needed funds for the Foyle Hospice.
Tom has described Saturday as “the best run of his life”.
Tom’s life changed forever five years ago when he drank himself into a New York hospital.
“I got into my car and I was intoxicated,” said Tom. He ended up seriously injured after crashing his car.
“When you wake up in a hospital and you don’t remember going there, that is really, really sad,” he said.
“The doctor told me - if you keep on going the way you are going, you will be dead within a week.”
It was a major turning point in his life.
But Tom admits it took time to fight his alcohol addiction.
“It takes times for the brain and mind to develop and realise that alcohol abuse can be fatal,” he said.
“There are a lot of mental battles going on when you are in that state of mind. I finally know now that if I drink I will die. That’s a heavy duty statement.”
The film which will be broadcast on Saturday night at a special event in the Guildhall tells the story of Tom’s life, of triumph and tragedy, redemption and salvation. “Like some of the patients in the hospice I was near the end of my life,” he said. “But I was there because of alcohol abuse. I was lying in a hospital bed surrounded by medical equipment. They didn’t know if was going to make it or not. There may be people I’m running for in Derry who are in the same situation.”
“Running saved my life. I worry periodically that every time I put my foot down that it will come back the same way. I ask God for the strength to carry on my journey. I ask God for everything to go well in Derry.
“The whole idea is to complete the journey, then you are a winner. It’s not about belting out the miles.
“What we want is to make the day successful for the Foyle Hospice. It will be lovely to see the people going round Derry.
To join in Tom’s run contact the Foyle Hospice on 71359888. To book tickets for the film log on to http://www.foylefilmfestival.org/