The dream is alive - run for Adam Burke
By John Harrington
On Saturday, September 30th, Two Mile House GAA Club in Kildare will host a special fund-raising initiative for 21-year-old Adam Burke who suffered a devastating stroke playing for the club’s football team in 2016.
Adam, a very talented forward who scored 2-2 from play in Two Mile House’s All-Ireland Club Junior Championship Final victory in Croke Park in 2014, collapsed on the pitch in the second half of a club-game in July last year.
Watching from the sideline, his father Willie immediately knew his son was in terrible trouble.
"I just saw him getting a crunching tackle into his chest," said Willie in an interview with RTE Radio 1’s Cormac O’hEadhra last month.
"He was attended to on the ground, thankfully he got up but didn't take much part in the next few minutes (of the game) because it was coming up to half time.
"He came out in the second half and drifted his man over near us and our eyes met and I could just tell something was wrong, he was grey in the face.
"I don't know why I was tracking him, suddenly I just saw him out in midfield and he put his hand up to his head and then just fell gentle as you like onto the ground.
"I jumped over the fence and ran into him and took him by the hand and I could tell he was in terrible trouble."
Adam’s brain was swelling and he needed a life-saving operation at Beaumont hospital to remove his skull-cap and allow his brain to swell naturally.
"We were given the news at that point that he had a 20% chance of living and if he did live that the chances of us communicating, walking, talking or interacting with us were very slim," his mother Catherine told Cormac O’hEadhra.
"I just prayed and wished he would come back to us, the whole family have gone through the mill and suffered but not as much as Adam has suffered.
"He was in a coma for two weeks. He was very sick when he came out of the coma. He gave us great hope after three days, he put his big left hand out around our necks and gave us a hug.
"He recognised us but his right side was paralysed but it gave us great hope and through those dark days a light was beginning to shine a little bit."
The stroke left Adam with a number of extremely challenging injuries.
He suffered paralysis of his right arm and hand, weakness of his right leg, increased fatigue, and also damage to the part of the brain that controls language and speech.
Adam spent three months in Beaumont Hospital engaging in a gruelling multi-disciplinary rehabilitation before beginning a further three-month intensive rehabilitation programme at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dun Laoghaire.
Through hard work and with the help of his therapists, Adam has made great progress and has gone from being bed and wheelchair-bound to walking again.
He still has a long way to go though, and the intensive and specialised neurological rehabilitation he needs during this crucial early stage will cost a lot of money.
It is estimated that the total cost of Adam’s future rehabilitation including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy along with life adaptations will be in excess of one million euro.
"The therapy he needs is very expensive,” said his father Willie.
“He's a growing young man, his brain is able to find new paths and new ways and that's what the funding is really for.”
As part of their fund-raising initiatives, the Burke family and Two Mile House GAA Club are hosting a family day of fun on September 30th that includes 5k and 10k fun-runs.
Tickets are €25 and include a t-shirt and entry to the BBQ that evening. The BBQ will be followed by a celebrity GAA Panel hosted by Marty Morrissey with special guests Davy Fitzgerald, Joe Brolly, Michael Duignan and Tomás Ó Sé.
To find out more about Adam’s story and the family’s fund-raising initiatives, visit the website www.runforadamburke.org.