Dad completes 100km walking challenge in memory of Leah

By Hayden Moore

A FATHER has completed a 100km walk from Ferns, Co Wexford, to Tallaght to raise funds for charity in memory of his daughter who passed away in 2013.

Aylesbury native, Tom Kelly, completed the walking challenge over two days last weekend in memory of his daughter Leah, who passed away at the age of seven after losing her battle with cancer eight months after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Footprints For Leah 2 compressor

Tom, Anthony and Paul taking a break from their 100km trek just outside Glencree’

Over the past six years, Leah’s parents Tom and Rachel have run Footprints For Leah, a charity drive that they each complete annually to raise funds for Barretstown and Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, two charities that helped them while their daughter was ill.

Footprints For Leah has raised €2,500 through their iDonate page and €1,000 in cash – with the cash proceeds going to Aoife’s Clown Doctors, a group of entertainers that try make children laugh in hospital.

Starting at Rachel’s parents home in Ferns, where her father created a tribute garden to his late granddaughter, Tom made the journey over September 21 and 22.

Following the completion of his walk, Rachel let The Echo know how Tom, accompanied by her two cousins Anthony and Paul, got on.

“He got on grand, he’s just very sore after it with a few blisters on his feet and that but I’ve seen him worse after a walk,” said Rachel.

“When he got to Glencree he was thinking that he wasn’t going to make it back to Tallaght and it bucketed  down for the last hour as well, but he got back in the end, he pushed

through it.”

Leah Kelly compressor

Leah Kelly

Stopping in Avoca in Wicklow at 8pm on Saturday evening, Tom hit the road again at 6am the following morning to complete the final leg of his journey where he made his way through Glencree and back to Tallaght.

“It’s the sixth walk that he’s after doing and the way he looks at it is, that all the suffering that Leah went through, this is the suffering that he goes through for her.

“It’s his thing, it helps him cope with it.”

Rachel went on to explain how they came up with the idea following the passing of their daughter Leah, who was a pupil in Scoil Santain.

“Leah passed away in August 2013 and after a few months Tom wanted to do something and we just thought walking, because Leah loved walking.

“Every time she had to get into the car she would be giving out.”

Completing the first walk in July 2014, Tom now completes the 100km trek every September to coincide with Glow Gold September, which was established to raise awareness for childhood cancer.

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