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Eoghan O’Leary has been blown away by the amount of money raised by his charity event, Cycle4Helen, which went from Malin Head to Mizen Head in memory of his beloved wife Helen who died of cancer aged 32. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Funds raised by charity cycle ‘beyond wildest dreams’

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MORE than €80,000 has already been raised as part of a phenomenal response to a fundraising cycle in memory of a Clonlara woman who died from breast cancer at the age of 32.

In fact, Eoghan O’Leary, one of the charity cycle organisers, believes the final figure from Cycle4Helen could be close to €90,000 when all the proceeds from the GoFundMe appeal and other cash donations are collected over the coming weeks.

Large donations just keep coming from people that Mr O’Leary doesn’t even know to support three cancer charities that will benefit from this cycle. A raffle for JP McManus Pro Am tickets has also generated a lot of funds.

Mr O’Leary was joined by a group of friends and family who completed a 670km fundraising cycle from Malin Head to Mizen Head last week in memory of his beloved wife and friend who was lost to cancer at such a young age.

The core group had a two to three support person team who provided the back-up for this cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Apart from a few flat tyres and one cyclists who fell into the bushes at one stage, there were no major mishaps or injuries picked up by cyclists along the route.

Eoghan O’Leary from West Cork and his late wife, Helen Guinane from Clonlara were married less than eight months when she was diagnosed with Stage Four Metastatic Breast Cancer in January of 2019 at the age of 30.

Helen and Eoghan on their wedding day in 2019. She passed away a year later.

Helen did not have any history of cancer in her family before receiving this devastating news.

She fought incredibly hard before she passed away in August of 2020 at the age of 32.

In an interview with the Clare Champion, Eoghan said the proceeds from his public appeal are “beyond his wildest dreams”.

“The week was a bit of an eye-opener. It was very good. Every day we would check the fund there would be another €5,000 or €10,000 raised, which would give you a great boost and keep the morale up.

“I don’t know half the people who donated. Old classmates and workmates I hadn’t spoken to in years donated and they found the appeal. The amount of money we have raised is unbelievable.

“It was emotional coming into Clonlara. A few miles from the village, neighbours and friends stood at their gates waving to indicate their support. Local people lined the bridge as we came across the village.

“I was aware there would be some kind of a homecoming, but I never expected to see what we saw. This will remain in the memory for me and the cyclists. It was very special.

“We had a core group of about 13 cyclists but this increased to about 40 for the Clonlara leg and the last day when we were joined by a lot of my aunts and uncles.

“We had plenty of people how joined us along the way.”

Mr O’Leary thanked everyone who has donated, cyclists, support team, sponsors and anyone who helped out in any way with the cycle.

Half of all the funds raised will go to METavivor whose sole focus is in the area of metastatic breast cancer.

Another quarter will go to Breakthrough Cancer Research, Cork, who carry out vital work in the field of cancer research and the remaining quarter will be donated to St Francis Hospice in Dublin.

People can still make donations on the Cycle4Helen GoFundMe page over the coming weeks.

Born in Clonlara, Helen attended St Senan’s National School and Scoil Carmel in Limerick.

In 2006, she went to study Civil Engineering in UCC where she met Eoghan, who hails from near Bantry in West Cork in early 2007.

The couple who were living in the same complex clicked and were married in St Senan’s Church, Clonlara before the wedding reception in the Lakeside Killaloe in May 2018.

After finishing college, Eoghan went to London for two years, while Helen moved to Dublin to work in the Central Bank.

On August 27, 2020, Helen passed away in the care of her family in her home, having received palliative care from a St Francis Hospice nurse.

She was previously diagnosed with Stage Four Metastatic Breast Cancer in January 2019.

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