Happy day for Jane as Ray's run in the sun brings in funds for children's hospice
It was the ultimate tribute to her daughter Lynn on the 13th anniversary of her death.
Jane McKenna, of the LauraLynn Foundation, stood in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd of runners for the 'Ray D'Arcy Show' Half Million Half Marathon at the Phoenix Park yesterday, feeling more than a little emotional.
More than 1,700 people had turned out amid blazing sunshine and a feel-good spirit of positivity, to take part in the event to raise funds for the homecare project of the foundation set up in the names of her daughters and which is the only hospice in Ireland for sick children.
The money raised will fund the project for an entire year, said Jane, revealing that she felt the location of the run in the Phoenix Park, where her beloved daughter Lynn had spent "much of her childhood" and on the anniversary of her death, was "more than a coincidence".
Lynn (13) died of leukaemia in April 2001, having been diagnosed on the very day that her sister Laura (4) passed away from a heart condition.
"It's the biggest sign she's ever given you," said a friend of Lynn's, who contacted her the night before the event.
The money was given a boost in the form of a donation of €25,000, which an unnamed benefactor had agreed to pay in the event that radio host Ray D'Arcy passed the finish line in under 1 hour 55 minutes. Despite worrying beforehand that he wouldn't be able to manage it, Ray soared in with time to spare – at just 1 hour 44 minutes.
Stephen Ralph (29), from Dundalk but now living in Naas, Co Kildare, had an even more difficult challenge than most. He had chosen to run the half marathon while soloing a GAA ball – despite only taking up football in the last year.
"I was spotted out running with the ball to practise my skills and was told to take part," he said.
Singer Bressie revealed it was his first time to run a half marathon, admitting he was nervous. He said the event "proved the positive power of the media" in supporting a good cause.
It was an emotional day for Catherine McWade from Stillorgan, Dublin, whose son Leo (1) died last year from a heart condition at the LauraLynn centre. She ran the half marathon, with husband John and Leo's twin Molly (2) cheering from the sidelines.