Online campaign to help Philip Leahy had reached almost €100k before his death

Online campaign to help Philip Leahy had reached almost €100k before his death

Update 9pm: An online fundraising campaign to pay for Philip Leahy's treatment prior to his death had reached almost 100,000 euro. it has emerged.

Philip died in hospital last night after a swimming accident in the United States.

The 22 year-old, from Ballyhooly, Co Cork, got into difficulty in the sea at Ocean City, Maryland last Wednesday.

The student at Cork Institute of Technology, who was in the US on a J1 visa, died in Maryland General Hospital.

The online fundraising campaign to pay for his treatment had reached almost 100,000 euro before his death.

Mr Leahy's GAA club at Ballyhooly organised the fundraising initiative.

A statement on the club's Facebook page said: "Unfortunately late last night we received the devastating news that Philip had passed away.

"To say the whole community is numb and in shock would be an understatement.

"The reaction to Philip's appeal has been overwhelming and a heartfelt thanks to all who contributed."

Earlier: A young Cork man on a student working visa in the US has died following a swimming accident last week, writes Niall Murray.

Philip Leahy, aged 22, from Ballyhooly, North Cork, suffered a cardiac arrest after being rescued from the sea last Wednesday. He had been on life support in a local hospital since then.

Philip’s mother Ann and brothers William and Patrick had kept vigil at his bedside at a hospital in Ocean City, Maryland over the weekend. However, he passed away last night.

Friends of Philip had set up an appeal on the GoFundMe website around teatime on Saturday to raise funds towards his medical treatment. By 10pm last night, around the time news of Philip’s passing emerged, that figure had surpassed €85,000, thanks to the generosity of more than 850 donors.

Dozens of individuals, families, and local businesses gave donations ranging from €500 and €5,000 in support of the fund

“The response has been really great,” said one of the organising group said. “I suppose it’s down to the GAA ties and the fact that the Leahys are a very popular family in the area.

“It’s been organised by the local GAA and the community council, we just wanted to do everything we can to help the family and assist with the cost of his treatment.”

Just under a year ago, Philip captained the local GAA football team to a Cork county junior B championship at Páirc Uí Rinn. His father, Philly died suddenly in 2014 while he was campaigning for a seat on Cork County Council for Fine Gael.

Philip’s family travelled to Ocean City on Thursday and around 200 people attended a vigil at the GAA club on Thursday night.

The popular young footballer had been in the US on a J1 visa since June, and was lined up to continue studying at Cork Institute of Technology’s sports department this autumn. He was working two jobs during his summer in Ocean City, where he had travelled with friends from college.

The Philip Leahy Appeal Fund:

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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