The Charlie Bird Effect – RTÉ star’s Croagh Patrick fundraiser for MND goes global ahead of the Mayo summit today

More than €1 million was raised from over 1,300 fundraisers around the world ahead of today’s Climb With Charlie event.

Harlie Bird will climb Croagh Patrick today, despite his diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (MND), to raise funds and awareness for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta.

Across Ireland and beyond, tens of thousands of people will take part in more than 220 organized climbs, walks and runs to raise funds for Climb With Charlie.

One of the fundraisers is Barry McCabe, who knows all too well the terrible effects of MND.

The Galway native’s father, Paddy, succumbed to the disease in 2014 after a three-year battle.

When Charlie Bird announced he would be starting a fundraiser following his terminal diagnosis, Barry jumped at the chance to raise much-needed money and raise awareness about the disease.

Barry’s fundraiser has “grown up” over the past month, becoming the highest-grossing of the 1,333 official fundraisers through the Climb With Charlie website to date, raising over €19,000.

“When Charlie announced on the The Late Late Show climbing Croagh Patrick I decided to fundraise and within hours I had a few thousand.

“The donations raised by everyone will help greatly and it means the poor family who are receiving terrible news next week will have the equipment and support they need,” Barry said The Irish Independent.

The scenic Knockma Hill footpath in Galway will be the setting for Barry’s climb with a team of two dozen volunteers recruited to help as the local communities of Tuam, Caherlistrane and the wider North Galway region row in to help to support Charlie’s cause.

Barry has been corresponding with Charlie throughout the year when he decided early on to fundraise. He says Charlie’s experience of the disease was very different from his father’s.

“It’s almost like another disease. Dad lost his limbs, let’s say his arms and legs, and was in a wheelchair at an early age, but pretty much had his voice until he died,” Barry said.

“I met Charlie in Tuam on Thursday and looking at him you’d think there wasn’t much wrong with him other than his voice. He’s a fit man for 72 given his illness. He’s something else, I can tell you that.”

Another person touched by Charlie’s fight and bravery is Maurice Moffett.

The 60-year-old man from Monaghan admitted he is ‘very happy to be here’ after a severe bout of Covid-19 hospitalized him for 100 days in 2021 and meant he was up for seven weeks had to be ventilated in the intensive care unit.

“The care I received was just amazing,” said Maurice. “The nurses and doctors have been just amazing and I want to give back to people who need it now that I can.”

The Monaghan man said he was inspired by Charlie’s bravery after he had his own health crisis and said the local community and a large circle of friends dug deep to ensure his fundraising efforts surpassed €20,000.

The climb at Sliabh Beagh isn’t particularly steep today but Maurice said “that’s not the point”. He said he expects well over 100 locals to join him on the trip. Maurice revealed he has a few ideas ‘in my pocket’ for additional fundraising but these would come as a surprise to those present at Sliabh Beagh.

“I was lucky to recover from my illness quickly enough, but after that I suffered from fatigue for a long time. I’ve learned that any day you put on your own shoes and go outside is a good day,” Maurice said.

Charlie’s perseverance and character in his fight against the disease inspired the nation to get involved and do whatever it takes to help people suffering from terminal illnesses or mental health issues.

His message of hope has spread around the world and hundreds of people will be embarking on climbs in the US, South Africa, Australia and Spain, organizing walks and runs across mountains, parklands and town squares.

Charlie and his group of family, friends and supporters practiced on Croagh Patrick this week ahead of their fundraising climb.

However, Vicky Phelan – now considered a “good friend” by Charlie – will not be present due to health issues. Vicky has been a huge supporter of Charlie since his diagnosis, but she confirmed she would not be able to climb the Reek. “I’m so disappointed I won’t be in Westport this weekend to say goodbye to everyone at Croagh Patrick’s base, but my family will represent me,” said Vicky. She wished Charlie and everyone involved “good luck.”

Charlie is also accompanied on the ascent room to improve Dermot Bannon, model Roz Purcell and RTÉ weather presenter Joanna Donnelly, as well as country legend Daniel O’Donnell, who will be singing songs from the top of the mountain.

The Clew Bay Pipe Band will also mount and perform on Croagh Patrick.

Charlie’s wife Claire told RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy that the Army Air Force Corps had also arrived to transport all the instruments and equipment to the top of the mountain.

Midwest Radio will be broadcast live from the summit, where Charlie will then use his app to address the crowd. Claire said: “People all over the world are climbing and have embraced our message of climbing in their own areas, climb your own hills, stairs, light a candle and it really worked.” The Charlie Bird Effect – RTÉ star’s Croagh Patrick fundraiser for MND goes global ahead of the Mayo summit today

Fry Electronics Team

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