A young baker in Skerries took on a gruelling 48-hour running challenge recently, raising vital dough for organ donor awareness and the Irish Kidney Association.
On Sunday, August 30, 24-year-old Cian Carty Heffernan, who recently opened a bakery business in Skerries with older brother Pearce, started his '4 x 4 x 48 Challenge', which involved running four miles every four hours within 48 hours, a total of 48 miles.
Cian's inspiration to complete the challenge and raise organ donor awareness came from first-hand experience, seeing his father Peter Heffernan endure kidney failure as well as his old school and university friend Jack Bentley (now age 25) struggle with Cystic Fibrosis.
Cian remembers: 'I was only ten or eleven years old when my father started to become unwell but one of the ways my brother and myself felt we could help him and support my mother Patricia was by setting up his home dialysis machine and ensuring that everything was safe and sterile for his daily treatment.
'This routine continued into my mid-teens until he finally got called for a kidney transplant nine years ago.
'Our family is hugely grateful to the donor family for this life-giving gift. My awareness of the plight of people like my father who also had other types of organ failure was heightened when I commenced secondary school at Skerries Community College and became friends with my classmate Jack Bentley who experienced regular bouts of sickness and was often absent due to his cystic fibrosis.
'I have remained friends with Jack since both of us went on to third level at DCU. Jack's life has been transformed since his double lung transplant last year and it's wonderful that he has now joined the recently established transplant soccer team as part of Transplant Team Ireland which I am proud to say my father has been an athlete on since 2013.
'My father has represented Ireland in swimming events where he has successfully medalled at each World and European Transplant sports event he has taken part in since then.
'Over the years I have seen my father enjoy the camaraderie and support of members of the transplant team who have all faced their own organ failure battles and are now enjoying their gifts of life.'
Cian's '4x4x48 Challenge' commenced from The Square in Skerries on Sunday evening, August 30 at 8pm. His twelve four-mile runs went through and around the beautiful Skerries seaside village with some taking in the park at Ardgillan Castle.
On Tuesday evening, September 1 at around 8.30pm, tired from his 48 hour Challenge, Cian reached his final destination, Bob's Casino on Skerries South, where he was greeted by his mother Patricia, Peter and Jack, some refreshments and a basket of pastries and sour dough freshly baked by Pearce.
Speaking after the challenge, Cian said: 'I always liked challenging myself to new feats. I wanted to run 1000km this year and I have over 800km covered so far. So I wanted to push myself a bit more by doing this Challenge for the Irish Kidney Association and organ donor awareness.
'The Irish Kidney Association has supported our family and therefore I want to play my part in by helping raise vital funds through my Challenge so that it can continue supporting patients and families with kidney disease while also promoting organ donation as well as running the successful transplant sports programme.
'I find that keeping myself healthy and fit is great in every way, physically and mentally. From being a kid when my dad was on dialysis and he did not have the energy to kick a ball and fast forward to him winning medals at the Transplant Games, showed me how important your health is.'
Cian, a former DCU student, and brother Pearce (27), an accomplished pastry chef, found themselves out of work after lockdown and in May established 'The Rock Bakery', a freshly baked produce for delivery business, which operates out of the kitchen of the Potager restaurant in Skerries.
The brothers have pledged to donate delivery charges for their freshly baked orders to their fundraiser, which has also already reached and looks set to surpass its €2,000 target through the Challenge's Go Fund Me page.
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free 'digital organ donor card' APP to your phone.