Saturday 24 February 2018

Award for Irish Taekwondo star (24) who quit sport to care for sick mother and brother with special needs

Ann with her sons Conor and Colin
Ann with her sons Conor and Colin

Ryan O'Rourke

A young man who stepped up to take the role of caring for his brother with special needs, while his mother is receiving cancer treatment, has been given a prestigious award.

Conor Grassick (24) from Drumcondra, Dublin, cares for younger brother Colin Grassick (20) after his mother, Ann, became too ill to look after him.

Conor received the Family Hero Award at the Hidden Hero Awards yesterday.

The 24-year-old, who also works as a Special Needs Assistant in Fairview school spoke about what it’s like to care for his little brother, who has Prader Willi syndrome and needs 24-hour care.

Conor Grassick with his award
Conor Grassick with his award

“Colin has Autism as well, which means he would have a lot of behavioural issues.

“He would constantly be looking for food, and if you don’t give it to him, he could become aggressive,” Conor told

Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder due to loss of function of specific genes. Beginning in childhood the person becomes constantly hungry which often leads to obesity.

Conor spoke about his mother, who nominated him for the award and his pride at winning.

“My mom is going through massive chemo treatment, and she nominated me for the award for keeping the family together.

“She’s unbreakable, she’s going to beat the cancer, she’s wonder woman is my mom,” he said.

Conor spoke about stepping up to the role of main carer and the responsibilities involved in caring for his brother.

“I always knew I’d be looking after my brother at some stage, but I thought it’d be in my 40s, not when I’m 24.”

Conor Grassick with his mother Ann
Conor Grassick with his mother Ann

“It’s taken over my life, I have had to give up my life to look after these two, but I would do it again, a million times over,” said Conor.

Conor is a member of  the Irish Taekwondo team and hopes to compete in the next Olympics, but for the time being has had to give it up to provide care for his brother.

“My coach said to me: ‘Look Conor you’ll have to do 101 competitions in your life but you’ve only one mother’. He’s right. I’d give up my life for my family,” he said.

The Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards were established in 2011.

The awards honour those who have made a significant contribution to Irish society, their community, workplace, family or through sporting excellence.

This year the awards were hosted by RTE’s Mary Kennedy at a gala lunch on Monday September 11 in the Inter-Continental Hotel, Dublin.

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