Barretstown came at a time in our lives that was so difficult

Kevin Shokevin-and-louise-shortall-barretstownrtall is running the Dublin Marathon for Barretstown this October. He is following a rigorous programme, training five days a week early in the morning and late at night, and he’s never been happier. Kevin’s motivation for taking part in the marathon and fundraising for Barretstown goes back to the time when his daughter Louise was diagnosed with Leukemia. As Louise thankfully nears the end of her treatment, Kevin recounts his family’s experience with cancer, and where they are today.

“My daughter Louise (now 9) was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2012 when she was 6. After all the trauma of the initial diagnosis and early treatment we woke up to the fact that we were facing years of complicated treatment and recovery, firstly for Louise herself and secondly for us as a family. 6 months into Louise’s treatment we got the opportunity as a family to visit Barretstown for a family weekend. We had heard about it before Louise got sick but didn’t know all that much about it.

When we got to the gates there was a friendly face waiting for us. When we entered the castle staff made us tea, smiled and joked with us and just made us feel at ease and that we were welcome and most important to them that weekend. We had serious fun, we ate rings around us, we danced, we played, we climbed, we rowed, we fished, we rode horses, we painted, we sang, we imagined, we learned together, we grew together; we loved it. We cried going home. Barretstown came at a time in our lives that was so difficult. They just knew what we needed, they knew where we were at and they took care of everything.

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I had always intended to do some fundraising for Barretstown. When your family experiences the magic of Barretstown, you know how special a place and a movement Barretstown is and how important it is to continue to provide this magic for others families now and into the future.

The marathon had been on my radar for a while. I started running in January 2013 with a view to doing the marathon 10 months later. I was not fit and a bit over weight. But I took my time doing small amounts regularly and taking advice along the way. It wasn’t long before I was doing 5k. Later that summer I ran 10k. Then I did a half marathon for Barretstown and Team Serious Fun in August and finally did the Dublin Marathon at the end of October. What a feeling! It was really hard, brutal, but they say like childbirth, once it’s over you want to do it all again.

This year I’m running again and I’m concentrating on times and beating personal bests. Running makes you feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. You start to get up earlier, go to bed earlier, your whole day and week revolves around your running and it feels great. Other tasks seem to fall into place and while you’re spending more time exercising you seem to get more done. There is nothing like the buzz of running further, faster and feeling fine afterwards, and there’s nothing like the buzz of crossing a finish line.”

Entry for the Dublin Marathon is still open. If you’d like to join Kevin and Team Barretstown contact Cliodhna today at 045-864115 or fundraising@barretstown.org

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