Sunday 28 December 2014

Dare to be an individual and say no to neknomination, says Donal's dad

Kathryn Hayes

Published 10/02/2014 | 02:30

Danny Cournane doing the Haka as Fionnbar Walsh (right) and friends of Donal Walsh look on. Picture: PRESS 22
Danny Cournane doing the Haka as Fionnbar Walsh (right) and friends of Donal Walsh look on. Picture: PRESS 22
Donal Walsh

THE father of the courageous teenager who inspired the 'LiveLife' campaign has urged young people not to engage in the controversial neknomination craze that has been linked to the deaths of two young men.

Fionnbar Walsh, father of the late Donal Walsh who lost his battle with cancer last May, made his comments in Limerick after completing a marathon walk from the Aviva Stadium in Dublin to Limerick's Thomond Park.

Six days and a gruelling 200km later, friends and family of the Kerry teenager, whose campaign on teenage suicides captured the heart of a nation, arrived in Limerick on Saturday after walking 20 miles a day.

Armed with sleeping bags, pillows and sleeping mats, the 46 transition students from Mercy Mounthawk in Tralee and Donal's old school, CBS The Green, spent the week sleeping on the floors of rugby clubs that hosted the walkers along the route.

During the journey they visited schools in Kildare, Laois and Tipperary, spreading Donal's simple message that is it is good to be alive.

More than €20,000 was collected for Crumlin Children's Hospital, the Donal Walsh #LiveLife Foundation and charities supported by Tralee RFC.

"The community spirit that has been shown throughout the journey we have been on, which has really been a bit of a pilgrimage, has been incredible," said Fionnbar Walsh.

On the neknomination game that has been sweeping the internet, Mr Walsh said: "I think he would have been strong and forthright, not in his condemnation of it, but he would have told them to stand up and be individual, just like he was. You can stand up and say no and start to be the different person. You can make the difference. That, to me, would be the way I would look at it."

Among those on the walk was 15-year-old cancer survivor Jonathan Myers, who met Donal when when they were both undergoing treatment at Crumlin Chidren's Hospital.

"He was a really nice person and he thought of everyone before himself," he said.

The walk from Dublin to Limerick was a poignant journey for Mr Walsh who had intended to complete it with his son before his cancer returned.

"There were a lot of memories going through it," he said.

Irish Independent

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