Father to scale new heights for sick son

A YOUNG father inspired by his infant son has roped three friends in to climb the world’s highest free-standing mountain.

Mark O’Connell, 33, from Cork, said he and his friends will donate everything they raise from their Kilimanjaro adventure in Africa next month to the Jack and Jill Foundation.

He said it has been of huge support to his family since his son Robert was born last September with brittle bone disease.

Robert, who was born with broken ribs, turned one last Saturday and is responding well to a new drug therapy regime in a specialist centre in Sheffield.

He has to travel to England every three months for treatment.

Dad Mark said the foundation has helped him and wife Amanda every step of the way, with advice and practical support and care in their home and he said he felt he had to give something back.

“They have been just amazing. I don’t know what we would have done without them,” he said.

Mark, along with friends Ash McRae, 36, the popular New Zealander who runs Brú Bar and Hostel on MacCurtain Street, Ciaran O’Sullivan, 31, from Ballincollig, and Conor Crowley, 35, from Buttevant, plan to set off for Tanzania on October 7 for the seven-day trek.

It will take them five days to reach the 19,000 foot summit and two days to descend.

They are busy training in the hills and mountains of Kerry and have organised a Nintendo Wii Olympics in Brú Bar on Saturday to boost their fundraising efforts.

Ash said they hope to raise €10,000 and he urged people to attend the fundraiser, which will feature a raffle for a signed Munster rugby jersey.

Several businesses have already backed their efforts including their employers, Fehily Timoney, Denis O’Sullivan Engineers, Quinn Healthcare, as well as Anderco Safety and Mahers sports shop.

Follow their adventures on www.kilimanjaro4.blogspot.com.

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