A Clooney-Quin hurler has turned his skills to running as he prepares to take part in the Dublin City Marathon at the end of the month and in doing so, he hopes to raise awareness for Caring for Carers.
Sean Daffy from Clooney had never trained or participated in a marathon before but had always set a goal for himself to do one before he turned 30. However, in the midst of his first few training sessions tragedy struck his family and both his grandmothers died within a week of each other.
Following the bereavements, Sean decided that if he was going to do the marathon, he would try to do some good by his grandmothers and raise awareness about the elderly who live alone.
“I’ve done nothing like this before, just usually team sports like hurling, but it was something I had aimed to do in the next few years and this year seemed like a good year to have a crack at it,” he revealed.
Sean said that he is doing it for his two late grandmothers.
“It was something I had been planning on doing for some time but this year we had two bereavements in the family. I lost two grandmothers within a week. My first grandmother had been sick with a blood condition and for about 10 years she had been in and out of the hospital every two weeks. Recently, she developed cancer of the bone marrow, but she was fiercely independent and wanted to be at home all the time on her own. It was something we were all a bit concerned about, a woman that age, in her early 80s at home on her own. We got an alarm from Caring for Carers, a pendant alarm, which she wore around her neck most of the time.
“She had been in hospital for a week and came home for a few days. When she was at home, we were keen to have someone stay with her each night, but she didn’t want that at all, she wanted her own independence. It was a Friday night and she fell out of bed and cut her head. She had the alarm around her neck and she pushed it and the centre in Wexford called her. They rang to see if she could respond to them and she wasn’t responding so they called my uncle and he came in and found her within about 30 minutes,” Sean explained.
“She was sitting in her chair when my uncle came in and he called the ambulance. She passed away two and a half days later. But they were very valuable days to us.”
“Those two and a half days meant a lot to my mother and my uncles especially. They were invaluable really,” he added.
He said that had she died at home by herself, it would have been far worse.
Sean admits that he is doing this marathon to raise awareness of the pendant alarm that Caring for Carers operate and its importance for an elderly person, especially for those living alone.
“I had started the training before any of this happened, but following the bereavements it really gave me a focus to raise as much as I could and raise awareness as well. My grandmother’s alarm went back a few weeks later and it was refurbished and recycled and sent back out because there’s a constant queue of people looking for them,” he highlighted.
Sean also recalled the help that his other grandmother had received from a carer, who would visit and help out three times a week for a few hours each day, which was also invaluable to the family.
Pat Shannon of Caring for Carers Ireland said that with the current economic situation, funding is hard to come by and therefore awareness and donations are vital for the group to continue operating.
The group’s headquarters in Ennis covers the whole country in terms of supplying pendants, but funding is no longer available to buy new pendant alarms and therefore the group are only in a position to recycle the devices.
“There is also a possibility of the carers allowance being cut, which is only talk at the moment following An Bord Snip, but the funding that was available to provide pendants to people over 65 is no longer available. So the only thing we can do is recycle,” Pat explained.
He added that the device doesn’t operate on its own and there is an alarm system involved that is installed in the home. When the alarm is activated, a person in a 24-hour centre in Wexford is contacted and can communicate with the person, who can tell them if they pressed it by accident or want to talk for a while.
“It’s a way of communicating as well. If there’s no response it means that the person is in difficulty and they call the relevant contact. It’s voluntary but funding is made available every now and then. There’s a review taking place at the minute and we’ve been told that the minister has paused this. We do get contributions in and Sean is helping by doing a marathon. We’ve 500 sponsorship cards out and we’re hoping to get €10,000 so we can buy a few more alarms. It costs €150 to get the alarm installed and then costs €60 a year for maintenance. We suggest to grandchildren that, as an ideal Christmas present, they could pay the annual maintenance charge for the alarm to keep the service going,” Pat acknowledged.
For now, Sean is enjoying the training, having completed his last long run of 21 miles this week.
“I’m hoping for a 340 or so in the marathon but I’m confident enough that I’ll be able to finish it. My family and girlfriend will be going up to support me, as will Caring for Carers,” he added.
Sponsorship cards are available from local shops and Sean will be running the Dublin City Marathon on October 26.
Anybody wishing to fundraise for the event can contact Pat Shannon, head of services with Caring for Carers on 065 6866515 or contributions can be sent to Caring for Carers Ireland, 2 Carmody Street Business Park, Ennis.