Three years to the day since they bid a final farewell, friends and family of the late Kevin King gathered at St. Mary’s GAC Slaughtmanus to mark the official opening of a project that ensures Kevin’s name and sporting legacy lives on.
Kevin, a talented player with St. Mary’s and Tamnaherin Celtic, was only 22 when he died suddenly during a game of indoor football in 2016. His parents, John and Margaret, and brother, Martin, later discovered he had lived with an inherited heart condition called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) which damages the muscle of the heart and led to his tragic death.
Kevin’s untimely passing shook the tightly knit Tamnaherin community but it also galvanised friends and colleagues determined to ensure Kevin’s love of sport and fitness was passed on as an example for future generations.
Last Friday night was the culmination of that idea as the totally self funded and state-of-the-art ‘KK Fitness Suite’ was officially opened at Ervey Road, with Kevin’s family guests of honour at an emotional unveiling.
”Each time we drive by the club, drive through Tamnaherin, we see this new facility and it’s an acknowledgment of the grieving process we have gone through and are still going through but the community are saying, ‘We are here with you and we stand by you,’” explained Kevin’s brother Martin.
“We have been blown away by how incredible the gym is, it really is a really fitting tribute to Kevin. It’s a combination of things he loved - fitness, training in the gym, Gaelic football .
“It is so special because it has been created by his club and his friends. Everyone has really stood by Kevin and stood by our family to create something very special that is going to last for the generations who will come through this community and this club.
“It says so much about what this community thought of Kevin and that means so much to us. We feel they have kept us a part of their team, a part of their family over the past three years and there are not sufficient words to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone.”
Martin said the family would always be indebted to the club and local community for the remarkable support shown since Kevin’s passing.
“We have been blown away by the commitment people have shown to keeping Kevin’s name alive. It will only be a reminder of Kevin unfortunately but it’s a positive that people will be coming to this gym to improve their lives physically with the memory of Kevin’s name.
“It’s hard in the sense that Kevin is never able to see or use this gym but he would have wanted his friends to have something like this. Kevin wanted to be the best and now, in his name, everyone has a facility that can help them be the best. That’s a fantastic tribute to have.”
Martin said the family hoped the new gym would inspire people to appreciate their health and fitness.
“It is an inspiring facility in the sense that from something so tragic, this community has taken it and made a positive from it. I can only compliment everyone and say ‘Well done’ for making this happen.
“I know it has not been easy to reach this point and it’s only the love and sheer generosity people had for Kevin that made it possible.
“That camaraderie and spirit has now spread so much awareness about health and fitness in the local community.
“That has helped us and it is a real positive we take. It is a fitting legacy.”