An Epic Race For Heartbreaking Causes
An event takes place on the 26th of August 2018, when a group of cyclists will take on a 2150 KM non-stop cycle around the whole of Ireland.
The cyclists will set off from the atmospheric setting of Trim Castle taking in some of the most amazing scenery and historic sights in Ireland, like Newgrange, The Causeway Coast, The Dark Hedges, Malin Head, The Cliffs of Moher, The Ring of Kerry, Mizen Head, the Garden County (Wicklow) and back to Moynalty in County Meath.
Sometimes when you hear about these events the stories behind them can get lost.
Peter Ryan and his tandem pilot Sean Hahessy are undertaking this challenge in order to raise much needed funds for two families in Tipperary who have very sick children in need of constant support and round the clock care and we are hoping this money will help them in some small way on their journey to recovery.
Peter has had to overcome formidable challenges himself.
At the age of 18 he played Hurling and Football for Tipperary.
However, aged 20, Peter started to realise that he was making a few to many mistakes when driving or playing sports and that he probably needed his eyes tested.
When playing hurling for Tipperary, a pivotal moment would change his life forever.
Peter was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON).
Over 14 months, Peter lost 90 per cent of his vision in both eyes.
A trip to UCD for a Paralympics Open Day in 2012, where he undertook a test on a wattbike which was to prove that he was a capable cyclist.
Today, Peter is 50 per cent of a formidable two man cycling team with Sean Hahessy as the pilot.
The two, having been paired together via the national para-cycling programme since 2015, have already made their mark on the Irish Cycling circuit having competed in the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.
Now they are fundraising for two families with stories that would break your heart.
Nichola Skeehan and James Doran are a family who have had their fair share of difficult times over the years.
With two sons named Dylan and Sean, for the Doran’s life couldn’t be better.
However, when their second son Sean, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in March 2014 their lives changed forever.
The brave youngster underwent rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, blood transfusions, stem cell transplant and immunotherapy in a bid to fight the aggressive form of cancer.
Although the treatment had been thorough, in May 2015 he went into remission when a tumour was discovered near his eye and tests showed the cancer had spread to his eye and his bones.
Sean sadly passed away in February 2016 at the age of five and since then his family have worked tirelessly to raise thousands of euro for children’s charities in memory of their son, including the Make A Wish Foundation.
Their youngest son Mikey, a happy and bouncy baby, was born in December 2017.
However when he was ten weeks old his family received the shocking news that their youngest son was battling leukemia and would need to start chemotherapy treatment immediately.
Having left ICU, Mikey is currently going through chemotherapy. In order to raise vital funds for the Doran family which helps with living and day-to-day costs such as travel, accommodation, food and supplies, Peter and Sean are taking part in the Race Around Ireland.
Also benefitting will be Catherine and John Gleeson who were awarded the national Irish Red Cross Carers of the Year in 2017, when you hear their story it is easy to see why.
It was early summer 2014 and Catherine and John Gleeson, who live near Thurles with their three daughters, lived a normal life.
Until the August of that same year, when their youngest daughter, Helen’s, health appeared to be deteriorating before their eyes to the point the child could no longer crawl. Helen was found to have a large tumour on her spinal cord which was effectively paralysing her.
After several life threatening operations and rounds of chemotherapy, Helen went into remission.
However, she still needed to learn to walk again- a long and time consuming journey.
Their son, Sean, arrived four months after Helen’s cancer diagnosis and with no inclination that anything was wrong up until he developed a bad cough and wouldn’t feed.
Whilst taking Helen down to their local hospital for a check up, Catherine had a doctor check over Sean. The doctor’s quickly realised they couldn’t control Sean’s heart rate and was transferred to Crumlin where they confirmed he was in severe heart failure.
Sean battled on, spending quite a while in the ICU, and then in the heart centre, in time his heart slowly began to repair.
However, in November 2016, their son was diagnosed with another serious, chronic, medical condition called Doose Syndrome. This condition affects the brain and means that Sean can have epileptic fits at any point, usually occurring several times daily.
It has been very difficult to treat and he requires round-the-clock care and supervision. John and Catherine still provide 24/7 care for their son and many have commented they have never heard them complain.
For the Gleeson’s it is a tireless effort to hopefully one day see their children well again.
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