A Dublin firefighter will run the Dublin City Marathon this Sunday in full firefighting gear, weighing over 25kg, for a children’s cancer charity.
hom Hempsey will run not only the Dublin Marathon, but also the New York Marathon in November for the charity Aoibheann’s Pink Tie.
Mr Hempsey will take to the streets of Dublin with 25,000 attendees on Sunday with an oxygen cylinder, helmet and boots.
“I saw the work the charity is doing and just naturally knew I had to do something big,” Mr Hempsey said.
The Northern Irish man previously worked in the military for 12 years and has now worked with the Dublin Fire Brigade for almost two years.
“We have our firefighter pants and our firefighter jacket, then firefighter boots, a helmet and a breathing apparatus which is a bottle that holds clean air on our backs,” he said.
“All of that will be about 25kg of extra weight for me.
“I’ve been training with different weights, but haven’t tried anything with full equipment yet, so tomorrow will be the big attempt.”
Aoibheann’s pink tie was created in memory of 8-year-old Aoibheann, who died in 2010 from a rare form of cancer.
“Aoibheann was diagnosed with cancer on January 22, 2009. She fought for a year and died on April 7, 2010, days before her ninth birthday,” her father Jimmy Norman said.
“She barely had a chance. She had a year of life after being diagnosed.
Mr Norman launched the charity in 2010 after experiencing a lack of support for parents and said ‘the seeds of Aoibheann’s pink tie have been planted in the St John’s area’.
Mr Norman and his wife Ann Marie had three other young children at the time of Aoibheann’s illness and he said there was no Irish charity dedicated to childhood cancer in 2010.
“I spent a year in St Johns Ward and during the year I spent with Aoibheann I noticed a tremendous amount of difficulty with parents in Galway, Kerry and even Dublin trying to find accommodation” , did he declare.
“When a child falls ill, one of the parents almost always has to give up their job, which has a huge effect on a family’s economy.”
The charity runs a financial intervention program and works with social workers in the St Johns area who meet the needs of the family, this may include help with accommodation costs, parking or food bills.
“If their car breaks down or accommodation costs are difficult for them. Car parking at the hospital is a huge problem, so we will take care of these financial burdens,” he said.
At Aoibheann’s funeral, Jimmy asked the men in the church to wear pink ties and the women not to wear black.
“When Aoibheann was carried out of the church, I just saw a sea of pink ties,” Jimmy said, explaining how the charity got its name.
The charity recently purchased a house in Drimnagh called the Aoibheann Lighthouse for families staying long term at Crumlin Hospital.
The house is free for families with a child on long-term cancer treatment and is located next to the hospital. The charity was able to buy the house following the ‘Strip and Dip’ fundraiser in 2018, which was attended by over 2,000 women.