Charlie Bird has said he “can’t put into words” how he’s feeling this weekend as he kicks off his Climb With Charlie fundraiser tomorrow.
The latest tally on his fundraising website shows he has raised nearly €900,000 for two charities, the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta, as he prepares to climb Croagh Patrick.
More than 150 fundraisers will be held simultaneously across the country and abroad as members of the Hill and Hill public to show their support for his amazing campaign.
That said the broadcaster Charlie (72), who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND) last year Irish Independent on his hopes of making it by Christmas 2022, saying the illness makes every meal a challenge.
“I’m not a religious person, but over the past few months I’ve felt like I’m being moved by an outside force and a spiritual force,” he said.
“And I mean it – if someone had told me this time last year that I was going to raise nearly €1million for two charities, I would have said you drank too much.
“But I’m totally overwhelmed by what has happened over the past few months.”
When RTÉ’s former chief correspondent revealed late last year that he had been diagnosed with MND, he sparked a wave of support from across the country. The reporter, who was with RTÉ for 38 years, then vowed to climb Croagh Patrick. He will do that tomorrow.
Wanting to raise funds and awareness for MND while showing solidarity with those facing similar mental and physical challenges, he said his life has now been completely transformed as a result.
“Tens of thousands of people came on board to support Climb With Charlie,” he said.
“Yes, my life has changed because I now have a terminal illness, but more importantly because I can’t believe what happened to me.”
Bono dedicated a new song to him entitled crazy mountain while Michael English and the RTÉ Orchestra recorded a charity single Shine a light with the proceeds for his campaign.
Many of his celebrity friends will join him on tomorrow’s climb including Ryan Tubridy, George Lee, Joanna Donnelly, Dermot Bannon, Roz Purcell, Sinéad Crowley, Barry McGuigan and Daniel O’Donnell.
His wife Claire, his children Neasa and Orla and his grandchildren will also accompany him in Mayo.
He said he couldn’t believe how much money had been raised “from the nice people across Ireland”.
“But there’s another story of how I’ve received support from people I never thought would support me. There is one more story to come.”
He has been “overwhelmed” by the support he has received from all corners of the country, with countless letters, pictures and cards being sent to his home in Ashford, Co. Wicklow.
“I received tens of hundreds of letters and cards. But the only thing that stands out is the money I’ve received from school children from all over Ireland,” he said.
Regarding his current health, he said it’s “not great” as the terminal illness is starting to take hold and making everyday tasks more difficult. He has now lost his voice and communicates via technology that cloned his speech, so recognizable thanks to his years in the public eye.
“People who see me walking think I’m good. But my MND affected my voice which is gone now. But even more disturbing is that my swallowing is getting worse every day. Every meal is a challenge for me. Sometimes I feel like croaking… and it’s the same every day. But I’m not the only one with this terrible disease,” he said.
“I have two burning goals: that I can live another Christmas and that from now on we finally climb Croagh Patrick with Charlie every Saturday closest to April 2.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/charlie-bird-tells-of-his-joy-at-900000-raised-for-charity-ahead-of-his-croagh-patrick-climb-41508979.html Charlie Bird shares his joy at the €900,000 raised for charity before climbing Croagh Patrick