Just over a year ago John McGrath and Erin Stack were young and in love and looking forward to building a life together in their beloved North Kerry. Sadly, a tragedy that is all too familiar for far too many Kerry families intervened and John was diagnosed with terminal Oesophageal Cancer in January 2020. He was admitted to Palliative Care in University Hospital Kerry under Dr Patricia Sheahan.
Over the course of a long and challenging year, John battled his illness with a courage, compassion, and humour that wouldn’t surprise anyone lucky enough to know him. Erin was by his side through it all and often heard speak his invariable saying in regard to the great care he received in the Palliative Care Centre – “ It’s great to have it, bad to want it”. John had always planned to do an annual fundraiser for the Centre, having experienced first hand the extraordinary difference they make every day. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as John slipped away in January, just a year after his initial diagnosis.
After the initial surge of grief, Erin wanted to celebrate as well as commemorate John by carrying out his wish for another fundraiser to try and help others who were facing the same situation he had. Among the close-knit Kerry farming community that had supported the pair and their families right from the start, the idea of ‘Donate A Calf’ was born.
“We are asking farmers to bring their chosen calf or calves to the Listowel Mart on March 24th and donate the sales proceeds made to Palliative Care. The Mart has very generously agreed to forego any charges for these sales. The calves will be sold in their own section. This appeal is targeted towards securing as many calves as possible so that as much funds can be raised to keep this service,” explains Erin.
“If there are non-farmers out there that would like to get involved, and we know all too well that cancer touches everyone, we are strongly encouraging them to get involved and get in touch. Even if it’s just for a talk or a bit of support on either side, we’d love to hear from them.We all know that fundraising has been decimated because of covid, but I can tell everyone from first hand experience that this service remains absolutely vital for so many people in the community. I’d like to thank everyone who has given us all so much help, support, and encouragement in this important fundraiser, most especially Barney O’Connell and everybody at the Listowel Mart. It means an awful lot to all of us”.
“Hopefully on March 24th we can celebrate John’s life and make a difference for many others at a time when they most need it.”
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