Runners from Coalisland, Derrytresk, Dungannon and Killyman, joined more than 100 others to support Derry woman Louise McGrotty - who lost her family in a tragic accident in Buncrana only weeks ago - as she took on the Belfast Marathon in aid of Muscular Dystrophy UK.
Eight year-old Evan McGrotty suffered from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a muscle-wasting and life-limiting condition, just like little Luke O’Hanlon from Derrytresk, whose mum Claire set up the Leap for Luke charity to campaign for better awareness and access to potentially life-extending drugs.
On May Day Bank Holiday Monday, Claire took part in the Belfast City Marathon along with Claire McIlwaine, Colleen McGrath, Kevin Darragh, Eamon McNally and Annamay McNally, as part of #TeamEvan, which included Evan’s mum Louise and a huge contingent of supporters from Derry.
Thomas McCallion, who co-ordinated the group, told how his son, also named Tom (8), asked him to take up the challenge in memory of Evan, his best friend:
“Following an effort from my own running club members to run the Belfast Marathon in support of the family, I spoke to my family about possibly doing something myself. My son Tom, who was Evan’s best friend, asked if I would do the full marathon in his memory, a request I couldn’t say no to. My own club runners and members of other local clubs in Derry and Donegal have showed fantastic support. It has been a positive and memorable day for us all.”
After crossing the finish line at Ormeau Park with Davitt Walsh, who saved her baby daughter Rioghnach, Louise thanked all those who had ran, walked and donated to the charity in her son’s name.
“I want to thank every single person who took part to remember Evan, whether you ran the race or have put your hand in your pocket to donate”, she said. “You did something remarkable in his name and to celebrate his life. I know he would be proud. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a heart-breaking condition. There are hundreds of young people who live with it today. For them, we need to raise awareness of Duchenne.”
Donations can still be made via justgiving.com/teamleapforluke