Damian O’Brien, 40, from Cobh in Co Cork, arrived to a hero’s welcome in his home town yesterday after the 12-day adventure across north western Europe to raise funds for pioneering research being conducted by the Cork Cancer Research Centre (CCRC).
When the going got tough, Damian said he dug deep by thinking of two people, in particular, with whom he had lost contact in recent years before their deaths from the disease.
One former work colleague was only 30 when he died from cancer two years ago. Another man who joined Damian on a fundraising walk some years ago was in his 40s when he passed away.
“I have spent the past 12 days looking at my feet and willing them to keep pumping through the toughest moments and telling myself that this was for these two men,” Damian said.
“It has worked and I found the strength to keep going even in those tough days of the Welsh Valleys.”
He and his family were based in Copenhagen for the last three years, where he worked as quality assurance manager for the construction of two new platforms in the Danish sector of the North Sea, for US oil and gas giant Hess.
When the contract finished a few weeks ago, his wife Laragh and their children Charlotte, eight, and Christian, four, flew home.
But Damian decided to cycle home to raise funds for the CCRC.
He and his friend, Alistair McKinna, set off from the iconic Little Mermaid statue in the Danish capital on Aug 16 and crossed Denmark.
They took a ferry to England and cycled through Wales, catching the ferry to Rosslare, before rolling into Cobh where town mayor Cllr John Mulvihill Jnr hosted an official welcome.
Damian has been raising funds for the CCRC since 2006 when he helped establish the Kerry Way Walk.
Since then, the event has raised €500,000 to help fund cancer research.
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