Raising awareness of spina bifida

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A JOBSTOWN man will be taking on ten half-Ironman challenges in ten days this summer and will be holding a wheelchair accessible fun run in Corkagh Park in Clondalkin later this month, all to raise funds for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI) after seeing the impact the condition has had on his friend’s young daughter.

Stephen Martin (36), who runs Marathon Man to Ironman and is the organiser of the Marathon Man to Ironman Family Fun Run, said he realised the importance of raising awareness of spina bifida after his friend Anthony Keogh’s daughter Hannah (3), from Kiltipper in Tallaght, was born with the condition.

Stephen Martin 02 1

Stephen with his daughter Libby and Hannah Keogh in Corkagh Park. Stephen will be doing ten-half Ironman challenges in 10 days, along with a wheelchair accessible fun run

Spina bifida is the result of incomplete spinal development in the womb, and the condition can cause incontinence, mobility issues, pressure sores and social challenges in those affected.

Stephen raised funds for the charity SBHI last year through his annual fun run, and will be continuing the partnership for this year’s fun run in a bid to raise awareness of the condition.

Stephen told The Echo: “Since joining up with SBHI, the Marathon Man to Ironman concept has exploded.

“They have supported every single thing that we have put forward to them and we couldn’t ask for a better charity partner.

“One of the main things we proposed to them was the Marathon Man to Ironman Family Fun Run, which we held last year with the help of Pop Up Races, and it was a huge success.

“It went that well that we are doing it again on the 30th of June in Corkagh Park with a flatter, more wheelchair accessible 5k and 2.5k route.”

In addition to this, Stephen will be taking on his own challenge to raise funds for the charity when he will embark on ten Dublin-based half-Ironman events in ten days next month.

The challenge will cover 19k of swimming, 900k of cycling and 211k of running, but Stephen has seen how Hannah has bravely dealt with her own challenges and this will be at the forefront of his mind over the ten days.

“Hannah was born with both conditions of spina bifida and hydrocephalus,” he said.

“It’s very rare for anyone to be born with both conditions and Hannah has been through so much in her life so far, but she’s tackled it all with a smile – and is still smiling through everything she is currently going through.

“Although this challenge will be absolute torture for me, the fact that Hannah has come through what she has and is still smiling is enough to get me through it.”

Every half-Ironman that Stephen will be taking part in is Dublin-based and he said that people are free to join him for a swim, cycle or run, or for the whole duration.

He said: “There is no entry fee, just a donation of what they can spare to our chosen charity.”

For further details about this challenge, visit the Marathon Man to Ironman Facebook page.

Elsewhere, the Marathon Man to Ironman Family Fun Run will be held in Corkagh Park on Sunday, June 30 at 10.30am.

Entry is €20 for an adult, €5 for a child, or you can pay for a family entry of two adults and two children for €30, and you can register in advance at www.popupraces.ie or register on the day ahead of the race.

SBHI, which is based in Clondalkin, was formed in 1968 when a small group of parents whose children were affected by spina bifida and hydrocephalus came together to offer support and highlight awareness of the conditions.

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