independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Brave mum snaps up chance to dive with alligators

Josephine Fitzgerald gets ready for her swim today at the Reptile Village in Gowran. Photo: Pat Moore

Diving into a tank with two toothy alligators is not an offer that you would normally snap up.

Particularly if you can't swim very well. Yet Josephine Fitzgerald (58), from Callan, Co Kilkenny, is putting her fears aside to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Ireland, as a tribute to her daughter Cathy (35), who is battling a second bout of the cancer.

She plans to dive head-first today into a pool where two American alligators, Battle and CC, lie skulking to complete a charity 'alligator swim' at the Reptile Village in Gowran. "I can't really swim at all," she admitted.

"I have been taking lessons but I'm not great, but I'll tell you one thing – if those alligators don't like me, I'll set an Olympic record on my way out of their pool."

The Reptile Village Zoo in Gowran offers a chance for people to get out of their comfort zone and into a tank with the two American alligators.

Despite a fearsome reputation, the creatures are generally timid towards humans and try to avoid them. And the cold-blooded predators are more docile in cold water.

Josephine dismissed any concerns, saying: "I don't think that I am the brave one, those fighting cancer are. I know no fear when it comes to helping my child.

"Cathy is the wind beneath my wings; she carries me."

Diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, Cathy was in remission for four-and-a-half years until the cancer returned.

She has two young children, Daniel (13) and Andrew (2).

Josephine came up with the idea for the fundraiser after the Reptile Village in Gowran sought volunteers to swim with the alligators.

Irish Independent

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