If there is one way to describe Co Derry man Ryan McCaul it has to be as ‘a survivor’.
The mechanical engineer from Drum, outside Dungiven, battled and beat cancer three times as a child. In 2004 he was in a car crash that left him fighting for his life; in a coma for 29 days. When he miraculously pulled through he had to learn how to walk again, but tragedy wasn’t far off. While on the road to recovery, Ryan suddenly became deaf and lost his hearing. He learned sign language, as did his mum Edwina, but it was a lonely, tough time for him. However, after a life changing cochlear implant four years later, Ryan was able to hear.
“I got my life back,” he says.
Ryan then fought and survived Meningitis - not once but twice - and, as if that wasn’t enough, he was knocked down in Liverpool during a trip with friends. He suffered a broken leg and collarbone.
All this at only 29 years old.
“I’m here for a reason,” says Ryan. “There is something I have to do.”
Ryan’s attitude is “there is always someone worse off” so, to that end, he wants to help others and that’s exactly what he is doing.
Ryan is back from the Big Apple where he went the distance among 50,000 runners in the New York City Marathon. Determined Ryan, who only started running in March, clocked an impressive time of 3 hours 56 minutes to run 26.2 gruelling miles.
To top it off, he ran the marathon to raise funds for the charity Action Cancer. With donations still pouring in, Ryan has raised more than £4,500.
“I want to thank everyone who has donated money for Action Cancer,” he says. “It was a whole new experience. The atmosphere was fantastic; people shouting and cheering ‘C’mon Ryan, you’re awesome!’ You definitely don’t get that in Drum!”
After all the challenges thrown at Ryan, he doesn’t think of himself as the miracle man, but admits he is lucky.
“I had cancer as a child and, when I think about it, well people died but I survived. I always feel sorry for people who didn’t get to have as good a life as me. I’m so grateful for what I have, I want to give something back. You can never feel down about anything. Think about what you have; be grateful for what you have. There are others who have nothing.”