Damien Duff with members of the Galway Cycle committee . Picture: Ben Kelly
Soccer legend Damien Duff, has lent his support to students of Maynooth University who will take on a mammoth 400kms cycle this April to raise funds for a charity that is close to his heart, Heart Children.
Up to 150 students and friends will cycle from the Co Kildare college to Galway and back over the weekend of April 8-10 to raise funds for Heart Children.
The money raised will fund the charity’s INR home-testing programme which provides children on warfarin medication with a medical device to monitor their blood readings from home without needing to make regular visits to hospital.
Retired Blackburn, Chelsea, Fulham and Republic of Ireland player Duff, 42, has supported Heart Children since his son, Woody, was diagnosed with a hole in his heart, 32 weeks into his mother’s pregnancy.
Woody underwent a successful operation when he was six months old.
In the past, while playing for Shamrock Rovers, Duff donated his salary, splitting it between Temple Street and Heart Children.
“Heart Children is very close to my heart after Woody’s diagnosis. I’ve seen first-hand the amazing work that they do and I’m delighted to support them in any way I can,” said Duff who was appointed Shelbourne manager last November.
“I’m full of admiration for the students who will be cycling to and from Galway – I’d get tired driving all that way!”
“Approximately 5-600 babies are born annually in Ireland with a range of over 40 different structural anomalies, collectively termed as Congenital Heart Defects,” said Sheila Campbell, CEO Heart Children Ireland.
“Milder forms of the condition can be corrected with surgery while more extreme cases of the disease will require life-long medical and surgical treatment.
“Some children, whose condition requires them to be on warfarin, need their bloods checked regularly yet may live long distances from a general hospital.
“Taking bloods, using needles and finding veins can be very time consuming and traumatic, and the simplicity of home-testing is less emotionally draining and more effective for the child and the whole family unit.
“This method also reduces the risk of infection for children with lowered immunity, and having one of these devices means they no longer need to travel to an adult general hospital.
“It also removes the psychological trauma for children of having bloods drawn and reduces the stress load for families caring for a child with a long-term illness.
“The cost of supplying one of these devices is approximately €500 and in 2021 requests to Heart Children for the supply of the devices increased by 375%, largely driven by the Covid pandemic – this trend is likely to continue.”
The Galway Cycle was established in 1987 by a group of students and has taken place annually ever since – with the exception of 2020 – raising more than €1.8 million for a variety of children’s charities.
PRO Conor McHugh said that the organisers were delighted to make a difference to the lives of the children and families affected by congenital heart disease.
“When we decided to cycle this year in aid of Heart Children, we were very drawn to the idea of funding something as simple and practical – and yet life changing – as the CoaguChek Home-testing Programme,” he said.
“Training begins in earnest this weekend for the Galway Cycle, and we’re very much looking forward to getting back on the road as a group.
“Anyone who is prepared to cycle the distance and raise €400 for Heart Children Ireland can take part in the cycle and we would love to hear from them.
“We ran the 2021 Galway Cycle as a virtual event and April 2019 was the last time we actually cycled to Galway, so we’re very much looking forward to arriving into Eyre Square again!
To learn more, or to register to take part in the Galway Cycle 2022, go to www.galwaycycle.ie
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