By Shelley Marsden
TWO Irishmen in America were inspired by an article in the Irish World in January to help Galway woman Mary Philbin in her fight against cancer.
Mary, who was diagnosed with a very rare malignant tumour in her throat in 2005, underwent radio and chemotherapy in Ireland to treat the cancer, but was left with severe side effects including problems with her breathing and unable to eat solid food.
Mary never gave up hope of finding treatment that could improve her quality of life and she found this in North Carolina with a Dr Christopher O Sullivan. After two successful surgeries, the family does not have the required funds for further treatment and Mary’s mother may have to sell the family house in Ireland to finance this.
Gregory Devlin, 24, from Co Monaghan, graduated from Dublin City University in Marketing, Innovation & Technology and worked in Dublin for a year before moving to Dallas, TX last November with two college friends.
He told the Irish World he was inspired to help when he came across Mary’s story on the Irish World website (www.theirishworld.com).
“I came across the above article on the Irish World site and instantly made a connection. I felt felt compelled to do something. Here was an Irish woman of similar age, in the US, forced to quit college after a year, in desperate need of immediate help and support… it was a no-brainer.”
Along with two friends who he made the move to the States with, Bishop and Sean Conroy as well as another young Irish man recently arrived in Dallas TX, got together to do a cycle ride to raise funds for Mary’s vital treatment.
Gregory explained: “We are four very ordinary guys, but I like to think we did an extraordinary thing. We organized and completed A Cycle For Mary and it was a massive success. We cycled from Austin TX to Dallas TX, which is 220 miles across three days through highways and small Texas towns under a burning Texas sun, all to raise money for Mary’s cause – An Irishwoman we have never met or spoke to.”
There is a growing Irish-American Community in Dallas and with a huge outpouring of support, the boys managed to raise over $5,000. They expect that total to hit $7,000 before their campaign page closes.
The challenge itself was a big one, and though the four are all passionate GAA players, they are by no means cyclists and had to put in some hard training in the weeks running up to their chyallenge./
Gregory said: “As tough and gruelling as it was, our experience only scratched the surface compared to what Mary has gone through, and that was our motivation throughout. Since then we have developed close ties to Mary and her mother over the phone from Dallas to North Carolina and will present the cheque to her some time very soon.”
That moment may well be at the upcoming North Carolina Rose of Tralee Selection Night in March as the girlfriend of Gregory’s brother (who also lives in Dallas) happens to be the 2013 Texas Rose and they are hoping they can present Mary with her cheque during the event.
You can watch a Youtube video of the lads’ cycle at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxM3-mw78X4. You can still donate at the link https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/bgqN3/ab/d2kL0a. Check out A Cycle For Mary’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/acycleformary.