By Frank Craig
HUGH McFadden has called on the people of Donegal, and indeed further afield, to get behind their ‘A Better Life for Livie’ charity cycle this coming Sunday.
The Donegal GAA team and management are hosting the event with the aim of raising funds for 10-month-old baby Olivia ‘Livie’ Mulhern.
Livie was recently diagnosed with a rare and serious genetic neuromuscular condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and needs urgent surgery in the US, costing over $2,100,000.
McFadden explains: “During Covid, it gave us all the chance to sit back and look around. Football, for once, wasn’t the centre of our worlds. We saw an opportunity to do something really meaningful for the people of Donegal.
“When we heard about the ‘A Better Life for Livie’ campaign, it was just a no-brainer. As a Donegal team and as a county, we pride ourselves on our ability to back each other in difficult times – to put out a hand when someone needs it.
“I really believe Sunday is a great chance, not just for the GAA community but for people across the entire county, to come together and support Livie and her fight to live a better life.
“We’re starting off in nine different parts of the county. The idea is that all participants will, at the end, come together in MacCumhaill Park, the home of Donegal GAA.
“We hope it inspires the rest of the country and anyone further afield to get involved and help Livie.”
Last month, Livie’s campaign benefited from a quite incredible gesture from the Donoher family in Co. Laois. Their own wee boy, Dan, also has SMA.
They’d previously launched the ‘Do It For Dan’ campaign back in March and reached their target inside a matter of weeks only to learn the heartbreaking news that their wee boy was no longer a suitable candidate to receive the treatment in the US.
They have now pledged €1m of that funding raised towards the cost of Livie’s treatment.
“It was an amazing gesture, just extraordinary” said McFadden. “But it’s up to us now to keep pushing to make sure we reach the target. Our aim is to add €400,000 more to that.
“The senior football and management team really believe we can get the ball rolling on this with one huge massive push.
“And if we can get anywhere near our target this weekend, it’ll be a massive help towards reaching that final end goal target.”
He added: “It’s never been easier or more accessible to make a donation. There is no such thing as a donation that is too small.
“We have to get behind this. We’ve taken this personally – by that I mean we’ve really been touched by Livie’s situation.
“Donegal games are usually a massive occasion in everyone’s summer. Supporters’ lives are literally planned around them.
“We’re all missing that. But Sunday is a chance to cheer the lads on in their respective routes and get a wee bit of that buzz back going as well.
“This is a different way – an even more important way to represent Donegal and what we stand for. Meet us on our travels and please donate on the day”
The players and their routes will be:
Ardara – Ballybofey: Paddy McGrath, Ciaran Thompson, Ethan O’Donnell, Eoghan McGettigan, Jeaic McKelvey, Oisin Gallen, Cathal Ellis and Shaun McGlynn.
Bundoran – Ballybofey: Jamie Brennan, Paul Brennan, Paul Durcan and Stephen Rochford.
Clonmany – Ballybofey: Caolan McGonagle, Stephen McMenamin, Paul McGonagle, Shane McLean.
Downings to Ballybofey: Caolan Ward, Niall O’Donnell, Conor O’Donnell, Conor Morrison, Jason Black, Barry Fenny, Kevin Moran.
Falcarragh – Ballybofey: Jason McGee, Michael Langan, Michael Murphy, Eamonn Doherty, Shaun Patton, Andy McGovern, David Caff, Nathan McElwaine.
Gaoth Dobhair – Ballybofey: Neil McGee, Daire Ó Baoill, Odhran McFadden Ferry, Kieran Gillespie, Declan Bonner, Packie McDyer, Gary Boyle.
Glencolmcille – Ballybofey: Patrick McBrearty, Ryan McHugh, Eoin McHugh, Andrew McClean, Hugh McFadden, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Aaron Kyles, Brendan McCole, Peadar Mogan.
Malin – Ballybofey: Ciaran Diver, Conor O’Donnell, Michael Lynch, Paul Fisher.
Pettigo – Ballybofey: Karl Lacey, Declan Bushell, Kieran Espey.
To support #TeamDonegal4Livie and the #Love4IrelandLove4Livie campaign visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/teamdonegal4teamlivie