By Claire Corrigan
Mullingar man Johnny Keegan is set to take on the biggest mountain in Ireland and the UK, Ben Nevis in Scotland, in order to support his friend and cousin Gareth Hayes who was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year.
“Gareth was diagnosed in February with a tumour in his brain,” explained Johnny when speaking to Topic. “I wanted to do something a bit challenging to encourage people to donate and I looked at Ben Nevis and decided to give it a go. I spoke to Gareth about it and he agreed.”
The pair are both football enthusiasts and Gareth used to be the manager in Mullingar Town Football and Johnny, who plays with the club, played a few games under him. “He’s a huge Man City fan. He used to live beside Man City stadium and at about 12 he moved to Mullingar. He was actually selected as ‘Fan of the Month’.”
Johnny continued that public support he received has been strong. “He is blown away by it all. He’s delighted. It’s always about letting him know that everyone cares about him. I had a Man City jersey made with ‘Get well soon Gareth’ on the back and am leaving that in Murray’s pub over the weekend with a couple of markers. People can donate and write ‘Best Wishes’ on the jersey and get that framed.”
This is a particular touching gift as Gareth runs GH Memorabilia which sells framed jerseys, boxing gloves and other sporting memorabilia.
On his Facebook page, Johnny said, “As most of you know my cousin Gareth Hayes received awful news this year having being told he has an inoperable tumour in his brain. He is currently going through chemo’ and has allowed me to try help him pay for some of the many and huge bills coming in his door!”
Johnny will also be raffling off father and son kits of your choice, memorabilia signed and framed amongst others until he sets off for the Highlands.
An incredible €3,405 has been raised, far surpassing the €1,500 goal.
Johnny explained that his friend is also suffering “from awful hearing problems from chemo and in turn is using hearing aids which are also hugely expensive. He has huge bills coming in the door and with your help I’d like to try pay some of the bills for him and show him we are thinking of him and his family!
Anyone who donates will automatically be entered into raffles run by Johnny.
“Last week it was snowing towards the top of the mountain.” said Johnny, who has climbed many peaks throughout the country. “The mountain is 1,345m and Carrauntoohil in Kerry is 1,038 m so it’s a good bit higher.”
Prizes had been donated by several businesses in the town, including Fagan’s office supplies, Buckley’s supermarket and Daly’s pub.
Mullingar Town FC have donated €360 while Annie Heraty from Mullingar held a raffle raising €300. “She got in touch with me to do a raffle and it sold out in one day!”
Johnny will document his journey through videos he will record while taking on the monster peak this Wednesday (13 October) so visit his Facebook page to stay updated!
You can donate at https://gofund.me/58b1c149.