If this weekend was different, 10 Laois lads should be among thousands over in Aintree for the annual horse racing festival – as they have done for the last 11 years.
However, the Coronavirus pandemic means that racing is off for the foreseeable future and so too is the group’s, who include men from Spink, Timahoe, Camross and Ballyroan, annual trip.
James Fitzpatrick, John Lowry, Padraig Clancy, Willie Lalor, Michael Delaney, Jim Ramsbottom, Fintan Fitzpatrick, Stephen Mortimer, Mick Scully and Mick Brennan got together though and decided to turn their disappointment into an opportunity to raise money for a boy who desperately needs it – little Dan Donoher.
James Fitzpatrick explained: “Tomorrow, April 4, should have been the running of the Aintree Grand National. But due to circumstances that we all know, this is not going ahead this year.
“So this got me thinking, that maybe we could do something here and bring the racing family on board with us.
“So tomorrow morning, at 8am, our group are donating €1,000 to the fund and after spending the week talking to racing trainers and people in the industry, big and small, the response I am getting is nothing short of amazing.
“Top jockeys Katie Walsh, Rachael Blackmore, Davy Russell and Ruby Walsh are 100% on board.
“So, what we are looking for is for everybody to come on board with us on Saturday and help make this a huge success for this little man and instead of placing your bet on the Grand National, place your bet on Dan and donate what you can, big or small to the “Aintree Grand National Do It For Dan” fund.”
The lads have set up a fundraiser on Facebook which has already raised almost €3,000.
But anyone who is not on Facebook can donate via the GoFundMe page that also already been set up.
James said: “Anybody not on Facebook can go onto the “Go Fund Me” page and donate to the “Do It for Dan” fund.
“Please please help us make tomorrow a success for this local family and very worthy cause.”
A massive fundraiser was launched for baby Dan Donoher on March 5, son of Niall and Aisling Donoher from Ballybrittas, who has been diagnosed with a rare life-threatening disease.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the little boy with a genetic neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1 and Scoliosis.
A breakthrough treatment is available in the USA and to meet the cost, a target of €2million has been set.
The reaction to the fundraiser has been huge with €512,000 raised so far from more than 14,000 different people.
People are not just raising money but awareness too as people are sharing the GoFundMe page on multiple social media platforms.
Dan’s parents Niall and Aisling (Nee Quigley) are very well known in the Laois GAA community.
Niall represented Laois footballers at all levels until his retirement at the end of the 2018 season while Aisling, originally from Timahoe, played for the Laois ladies team for a long number of years too. The couple live in Jamestown, on the old main Dublin Road near Ballybrittas.
Dan was diagnosed with this disease last December at the age of 8 months.
The life expectancy of an SMA type 1 child is 18-24 months.
A ground breaking treatment called Zolgensma is currently only available in USA and costs 2.1 million dollars for a once off infusion.
Studies show that Zolgensma can substantially improve quality of life and survival of this horrific disease.
This treatment is only available to children under the age of two and who meet the requirements.
Dan currently qualifies but “we are against the clock” his parents explain.
About one in every 11,000 children are diagnosed with SMA. It had been incurable, but with this wonder drug on the market it offers Dan a chance at improved or even a normal life.