A FUNDRAISER entitled Marching For The Maternities has raised over €27,000 for the neonatal intensive care units in Limerick and at the Coombe in Dublin.
The fundraiser was the initiative of Sergeant Eddie O’Brien from Killaloe and Lieutenant Jonathan Hughes of Limerick both had children who were born very prematurely last year.
The event saw soldiers complete the Great Limerick Run half marathon in uniform while carrying gear weighing 30 pounds, while colleagues based in Lebanon and Kosovo also took part in events at their bases.
Eddie, whose son Max was born 12 weeks prematurely last October, said his little boy is doing very well now.
“He’s doing great thank God, there’s no issues, he’s hitting all his markers and doing great, very healthy.”
Max was born on October 1 instead of the due date of December 22, and spent ten weeks in hospital.
Lieutenant Hughes’ daughter Daisy arrived at just 23 weeks, and Eddie says she is also quite well. “Daisy is doing well, come through a lot of challenges and thankfully she’s on the other side of it. She’s doing great.”
In the early stages Daisy had to deal with two bouts of Sepsis, two bowel infections and she had surgery twice.
Eddie said the care the two children received was phenomenal.
“It was incredible, that’s why we decided to do this fundraiser. It was a way of thanking staff for all the hard work and also of thanking our partners for all the hard work they had done as well.”
On the day of the half marathon, a sizeable group of army personnel took part while wearing uniform and carrying patrol packs weighing 30 pounds.
“We set off as a group, a few guys went off because they wanted to do it in a certain time, but we had a group that stuck together the whole way through,” says Eddie.
It was a difficult challenge, and he said it was a very successful fundraiser.
“At the moment it has just gone over €27,000. We have another €2,500 coming in from Lebanon, we have more money coming in from different barracks across the army.
“We’ll definitely cross the €30,000 mark, but the lines are going to be hoping for a while and we’d like to get to €35,000, that’s our new goal with it now.
“While we were in Limerick there were soldiers at the same time over in Lebanon doing different distances in the main camp.
“We also had people on the UN mission in Kosovo doing it as well, there were three different groups of people in different parts of the world doing it on the same day.”
During the half marathon he said there was great support from the public, with many people asking after the two children, while he says the overall response has been fantastic.
“I’m delighted with the support from our colleagues, from the military, our communities. Everyone has been so supportive and the amount of people who donated was incredible.
“We’ve seen the best of humanity, local businesses have reached out and donated big sums of money. It has been incredible, people’s kindness has really shown.”
You can still donate to the fundraiser here.