Dec’s Recovery Fund & Dec’s Marathon Runners
In late December 2017, our friend and teammate, Declan Smyth following a Masters League game with his beloved Straide & Foxford United AFC fell seriously ill.
Declan was undergoing intensive rehabilitation in Merlin Park Hospital when a group of us decided to come together in January 2018 to organise 3 fundraisers to help Dec, his wife Ann, and their children Jack & Ava with the financial day to day running costs while Dec recuperated.
Our first event was Dec’s 5k. On Sunday the 4th of February 2018 we waited patiently in the Davitt Community Hall for our runners, joggers and walkers to arrive – the hard work was done – route approved and marked, stewards along the way ready to help, car parking facilities all manned, the kitchen humming with Berco boilers and clattering of plates as donations of food for post-race arrived.
500 numbers had been ordered; we ourselves thought – “sure we can use the leftover numbers for the next 5k in Straide”, as 5ks usually attract maybe 300 – 400 people and they are the professionally run ones!! But this was Dec’s 5k… Within 45 minutes we had run out of numbers – over 1200 people passed through the doors of our hall that sunny Sunday morning.
Clubs from all over the county wore their club crest as a gesture of solidarity with Dec and his football family, friends and work colleagues all descended on Straide that day to show their love and support for Dec and the community of Straide welcomed them with open arms, to this day people still talk about the day that was Dec’s 5k – the love, the way the whole community pulled together to make it such a success – everyone rowed in – it showed Straide for what it is – a community that we are all so very proud to be a part of on a special day that will never be forgotten.
Our next fundraiser was a Rock Night in the Davitt Lounge, Straide. Dec’s brother Mick an extremely talented musician, together with neighbours and friends gathered together local bands and Straide got ready to rock!! On the 24th February, the Davitt Lounge was packed to capacity as the guitar riffs and drum percussions filled the night air – we rocked out to the early hours of the morning – another memorable night in Straide and all the while Dec was making steady progress in Merlin.
The committee of Dec’s Recovery fund held our last event on Sunday the 11th of March – A tractor and truck run!! Again we weren’t sure what to expect but as always the goodwill of people shone through and the community of Straide was there to welcome all – tractors of every size, vintage and breed landed to Straide that day!! Monster trucks and mini trucks showed up too to support us in our final event. Words will never do justice to the spectacular that arrived in Straide.
In between those events and after our tractor and truck run – other people and organisations took it upon themselves to organise events to support Dec, Ann, Jack & Ava and donate to Dec’s Recovery Fund – these were people in the community of Straide who wanted to do more and then others outside our community with connections to Straide who just wanted to help.
The local Teagasc Branch in Claremorris in conjunction with their Straide members organised a very successful race night in Westport
Dec’s neighbour Michael McHugh organised a hunt through Dec’s homeland of Blanemore and again such a sight to behold as the horses and their mounts got ready to leave from The Davitt Lounge and begin their hunt.
Sts Peter & Pauls National School Straide organised a Pyjama day to help the fund.
Swinford Cruisers a cycling club with some Straide members heard of Decs Recovery Fund and organised a Fashion Show in the Gateway Hotel in Swinford with some of Dec’s neighbours and friends modelling that night.
Our near neighbours Ballyvary Blue Bombers FC organised a 5 aside with Decs Masters Teammates lifting the cup on the day!
Foxford Foroige of which Jack and Ava are members organised a quiz night, Bohola Foroige organised a disco and St. Joseph’s Secondary School Foxford of which Jack and Ava are students organised a cake sale.
Dec’s cousins in Bonnicolon organised a country night and a monster raffle.
This is just a snapshot of the amazing goodwill that went into Decs Recovery Fund – from our amazing community in Straide to the communities with Straide connections – it just shows the power of community, connections and how blessed we are in Straide with such amazing people and diaspora.
Dec’s Marathon Runners
In 2015 Dec along with one of his best friends Michael Costello registered to take part in the Dublin City Marathon – unfortunately, they never got to fulfill their wish.
In the summer of 2018 a group consisting of teammates, neighbours and above all friends got together to realise Decs dream to run the 26.2 miles – to show their support and solidarity for Dec on his road to recovery.
Dec’s Marathon Runners was born.
Not only did these amazing bunch of people train for a marathon they also raised funds for Decs Recovery Fund to boot!! A slave auction was held where people in the community offered their skills for free and the price that was paid for them went directly to the fund.
The day of the marathon is one that will stay with all of us part of Dec’s Marathon Runners for as long as we live. The absolute pride seeing the black and orange of Dec’s beloved Straide & Foxford through the streets of Dublin as they ran every mile in homage to the marathon Dec was enduring in his rehabilitation was inspirational and humbling. Family and friends from Straide travelled up to urge them on their way and show their pride and support.
And as the runners came close to the finish line a familiar smile greeted them – Dec smiling and waving on his friends – seeing Dec gave them all that extra boost needed to cross the line.
Because that’s the thing with our community – you don’t have to be in it to feel it. The love and the power of Straide Community were evident on the streets of Dublin that beautiful October day.
Dec is back home in Blanemore with Ann Jack and Ava – just as it should be.
We the committee of Dec’s Recovery Fund and Dec’s Marathon Runners are so proud of our amazing teammate and friend who continues to inspire and drive us on.
We will forever be thankful to our amazing community of Straide – who answered the call when we looked for help and who went over and above what was needed not only in our beautiful parish but wherever a Straide person was – that’s community – that’s Straide.