21 blog posts series take thirteen

21 blog posts series take thirteen

Thirteen: “Appreciating sport and athleticism”

Sport means something, that’s what I’ve come to learn. Whether it be the community hall annual table tennis tournament, the premier league or even the junior league. Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, team or individual – sport has a deserving place in our lives. Love it or hate it, I feel that you can’t help but admire it. The fact that individuals go to lengths to better their skills and abilities, commit to a team or even follow various ones, it shows a dedication that’s something to think positively about.

Now in all honesty I may not wholeheartedly love a certain team or sport fully, but I do enjoy watching how passionate others are about it and of course the inclusion of those of every age. This comes as I remember the most read article on this blog, a piece from two years ago I did on a football game and triumph from an underdog team locally here in Wicklow. I link to that post here: (https://cathyinconversation.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/newtown-united-come-out-of-their-shells/).

That game was something incredible to be witness too, particularly in the celebratory time afterwards you could really just see and feel how much it meant to everyone and that has stayed with me since. When I was younger I pretty much tried every sport under the sun to see what would stick. There were a few faithful favourites but even now I know I could never be as good again as I once was. This month marks ten years since I competed in the Irish Gymnastics national championships in Belfast and was placed 8th in trampolining. My only claim to sporting fame, really seems like a lifetime ago.

I’ve friends and family who always think back to the sport that was theirs in their youth and there’s often a sense of regret that we didn’t stick at it. I understand that but it’s okay to accept that circumstances change and life moves on and sometimes sport can get mixed up in all of that. Facilities come into play as well as the time you have available to commit to these things. It’s tougher than it may seem and I think these athletes that give it their all week in and week out are champions in their own right for simply doing this and training hard.

When you look at the bigger tournaments like the Olympics or World or European Championships, you can’t help but admire the athletes coming from across the globe to represent themselves and their country in so many sports. I really think that sport is something simple to unite a country rather than segregate it. I know there’s such a thing as hooliganism and often cases of racism in sport, but for the majority of supporters – they’re simply involved to follow a team and to purely enjoy seeing what their men or women do best.

Athleticism is something excellent. Whether you work out alone in the gym or you show up for your team each week on the field, you’re doing something worthwhile in my view. Not only is being active rewarding for your mental and physical health, it’s something that sets an example for others. I’d love to have a personal trainer just to be in awe of what he or she can do and push others to do as well.

There’s money to be made in sport and I know there are plenty of various outlets cashing in on it but I don’t think it’s all bad. People feel good wearing the emblem of their team or the colours of their country and that little bit of pride goes a long way. The support is so rewarding for athletes that it can nearly be seen on their faces. So go to the matches, watch it on TV, clutch the match day programme tight – because you’re involved in something good that’s unique and special in its own right.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

A message amidst madness series: Facing Challenges

 

By Cathy Lee

“Cancer”.

It’s a threatening word that faces us in modern day life, something that we can’t back down from.

The pronoun before the dreaded word is very important too. “You have, I have, your wife has, your friend has” and so on.

Cancer is a sickening challenge, like that one competitor in the game who’s a born dominant fighter that you have to rise above to have a chance at overcoming.

Not an easy thing either, I might add.

How people tackle the beast of the C word has always fascinated me. From those suffering with the outer skin types, the internal organs types, brain tumours and in my opinion the worst case, the blood.

One in three people in Ireland today are affected by Cancer directly, but think about how many families and friends are indirectly affected.

This probably sounds like it’s going to be a downer piece but trust me, it’s not.

I want to share with you an incredible story of friendship, innovation and generosity which I witnessed in my own home town recently.

Last week I came across a link called “Aaron’s fight” that friends from home were sharing online. The image attached to the link looked kind and familiar, like I recognised the kids in the photograph across the screen.

The online world is a hectic place. Things such as these are easy to scroll past or look at half-heartedly. But not this one.

I clicked in, thinking some young lad from home had gotten in a fight or something. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this wasn’t the case.

“Aaron’s Fight” is a fundraising campaign for a young man, Aaron de Veerde, who has been fighting T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia for just over one year now.

Fighting is not strong enough of a term to describe this young man. From my reading and from talking to his best friend Blaine McKeever, who started this campaign, he’s an inspirational kid who has never wanted to give up.

Since his diagnoses, Aaron

has suffered the loss of sight in one eye and also missed out on the chance to finish secondary school with his classmates, a big step defining step in any adolescents life.

With this in mind, feeling inspired by his friend, Blaine came up with the innovative idea to use online means to secure Aaron a fighting chance at overcoming his cancer.

Blaine is a UCD student aged 19 and comes from Wicklow and is a long standing friend of Aaron. This campaign was a simple idea of telling Aaron’s story and appealing to the generosity of others in order to raise €10,000 for Aaron to travel to Florida to seek vital survival treatment.

This escalated over the last few days, with nearly 350 people donating to the cause online as well as directly to Blaine himself.

The €10k was collected in under a week from friends, neighbours and even those outside of the Wicklow catchment area.

The response was huge, as now there is even a charity concert being planned for early March with local bands who are friends of Aarons providing the entertainment.

“Aarons’ Fight” will go on until April, and the campaign continues today.

The extra donations past the now reached target are being used for family support and other donations such as to St. Vincents hospital, Dublin.

The support is huge and Blaine has been amazed by the ultimate generosity saying “It’s the people sharing and donating that deserve the thanks”.

What we can take from this story is that friendship is something extraordinary and any challenge, even one such as brutal as cancer, can be stepped up against with the strength and support in valuable numbers.

Daily, people complain about money constraints and their unwillingness to spend, yet this is such a different case. As the story grows and continues, I think the nature of giving will as well once this strong sense of dedication to friendship is recognised.

Check out the campaign here and I encourage you to donate to “Aaron’s Fight”. https://www.gofundme.com/aaronsfight