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Hugh McFadden remains a key performer for Donegal.
Hugh McFadden remains a key performer for Donegal.

McFadden eager to assist 'A Better Life for Livie' fundraising drive

By Cian O’Connell

“There is a pride in Donegal people, a togetherness, nearly a stubbornness,” the Donegal midfielder Hugh McFadden admits.

An inherent decency is part of the Donegal fabric too and that is why the senior football team are ready, willing, and able to assist a most worthy cause.

On Sunday a fundraising cycle takes place throughout Donegal culminating in nine different groups of players arriving at MacCumhaill Park in aid of Olivia ‘Livie’ Mulhern, a 10 month old, who was recently diagnosed with a rare and serious genetic neuromuscular condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and needs urgent surgery in the US, costing over $2,100,000.

“When we need to we come together we do,” McFadden says. “A lot of people would say that Donegal is the forgotten county in Ireland, sitting up here away in the north west.

“We are really proud of our ability to come together in times of need, to put our hands out to help the people, who need helping. I don't think there is a better time for the people of Donegal to be inspirational to the people of Ireland to get behind this movement on Sunday.”

Killybegs clubman McFadden is fully aware that 2020 has brought so many different challenges to people, stressing the value of trying to help others.

“Given the nature of the Covid situation we found ourselves in, myself and other members of the Donegal team and management found ourselves with a lot more time on our hands than we are used to, especially at this time of the year,” McFadden states.

Donegal midfielder in Allianz Football League action in February.
Donegal midfielder in Allianz Football League action in February.

Connecting the Donegal community is one way the team wanted to offer help and hope.“From meeting on zoom and other online platforms we really wanted to do something to bring the people of Donegal together,” McFadden adds.

“We realise that Championship games in Croke Park, MacCumhaill Park, and Clones aren't just football games. They are social settings that allow people to express themselves.

“You get to meet people at the game, you get to have a cup of tea and a sandwich with some boy from the neighbouring club.

“Sometimes it is probably the highlight of a lot of people's summer. With that as a motivation we sat down and banged our heads together and at the same time a ‘Better Life for Livie’ was just starting off. It was a no brainer to get in behind this phenomenal charity.

“The parents are from Donegal town, Karl Lacey and some members of our team living around the town. Our strength and conditioning coach Aaron Kyles, with two of his friends, already raised 30,000 climbing a mountain locally in Donegal 20 times. He is also in our group.”

Another fundraiser with strong GAA ties, the ‘Do It For Dan initiative, for Dan Donoher attracted significant support and McFadden highlights the importance of collaborating.

“The ‘Do It For Dan’ were unfortunately in a position where they could not proceed with the treatment,” McFadden says.

The Donegal senior footballers and management are embarking on a charity cycle on Sunday July 19.
The Donegal senior footballers and management are embarking on a charity cycle on Sunday July 19.

“They donated one million of their fundraising to a ‘Better Life for Livie’, that has left us in a situation now where just under 400,000 needs to be raised.

“I suppose the Donegal football team and management just want to help. We don't know what we are going to raise, but we just want to be a catalyst in making this a nationwide effort.

“What we are planning to do is to raise awareness and raise funds. Somebody remarked to me earlier that Donegal against Tyrone on May 17 was all roads leading to Ballybofey.

“In a different way it is all roads to Ballybofey on Sunday. The aim of our cycle is to stop at each of the 39 Donegal football clubs, to meet club members, kids, and other people in the community for 10 or 20 minutes.

“To have a meet and greet with socially distant photos to encourage us along the way.

"We want to have a live feed throughout the day to increase awareness and raise funds.

“This isn't just a Donegal GAA initiative or just a football initiative. This is just the Donegal football team trying to get the people of Donegal and Irish people at home and abroad in behind this, it is a very critical fundraising effort.”

To support the fundraiser click here.

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