DONNA O’NEILL admits she has never been much of an athlete. In fact, she adds: “I wouldn’t even run for the bus.”
But the mum-of-two ran a gruelling 26 miles 385 yards yesterday in London to complete her first ever marathon. And it was all a gesture of thanks to the charity which has helped her seriously ill mother.
Clare O’Neill, 71, suffered a brain haemorrhage three years ago and has an aneurysm on her heart which has been described as a ticking time bomb.
But Donna, who lives near London, ran the marathon to raise funds for the charity Headway, chooses to focus on the positives. She is grateful that her mother is still alive having nearly died on four occasions since her illness struck.
To acknowledge the support of Headway, she raised more than 3,000 euro for the charity through her marathon run. It’s her way of giving something back to an organisation that helps brain injury survivors come to terms with their situation and also provides practical help.
Donna got a wonderful surprise at the starting line when Donal arrived from Cork to cheer her on. She ran the race in 4.35 hours — the 20,130th runner of 45,000.
She said: “The pain and excitement is beyond words. I am still pinching myself in disbelief. The event was the most fantastic experience, it was about realising a dream.”
Donna is grateful for all the people who donated.
Anyone wishing to donate to her fund-raising efforts can sponsor her through Virigin Money Giving, which will be processed and passed to her charity.
Virgin Money Giving is a not- for-profit organisation. See http://uk. virginmoneygiving.com/donnaoneill
* Read the full version of this story in Monday’s Cork Evening Echo.