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14 friends to climb Croagh Patrick as Fight for Johnny’s Girls continues at pace

On the last Sunday of July each year, thousands of people climb Croagh Patrick in Mayo for ‘Reek Sunday’.

This year, they will be joined by 14 men from the Portarlington area, who are climbing the 764 metre mountain for the ‘Fight for Johnny’s Girls’ campaign.

This fundraising campaign was launched on July 1 this year, to support Portarlington native, Jonathan McCowen, and his family who live in Brisbane.

In September 2021, Jonathan was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease while his wife, Sherie, was 6 months pregnant with their second child.

There is no cure for MND and unfortunately, the disease is very aggressive in Jonathan’s case. He is no longer able to speak or move and is fed through a PEG tube into his abdomen.

Jonathan, Sherie and 2-year old Darcy were temporarily living in Vancouver when he was diagnosed. His friends immediately rallied around to see how they could help.

When baby Riley was born in January, they set up a rota. From 31 December until the end of March, when the family moved home to Brisbane, there was constantly someone there to help out.

A rota of 24 friends and family members over 13 weeks who travelled from the States, Australia and Ireland. They brought Johnny to medical appointments and became “honorary uncles” for Darcy and Riley.

Many of those friends are travelling again this weekend. This time, to Croagh Patrick to raise funds and create awareness of the “Fight for Johnny’s Girls” campaign.

There is a large team of people, in Ireland and Australia, involved in this campaign.

They are raising AUD $750,000 to provide a home and a secure future for Sherie, Darcy and Riley.

The reaction to the campaign has been phenomenal, with half of the target amount raised in just three weeks.

SEE ALSO – Laois community set to show their support as massive fundraiser planned for Camross man left severely injured by one-punch assault in Boston

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.