Soldiers in Lebanon and Ireland to march half-marathon this weekend for Coombe NICU fundraiser

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Soldiers in both Ireland and Lebanon will undertake a half-marathon march this Sunday to fundraise money for the Coombe and Limerick NICUs.

“Marching for the Maternities” was set up by Lieutenant Jonathan Hughes and Sergeant Eddie O’Brien and members across the Defence Forces are on board.

Over €20,000 has been raised for the cause so far, which is being run in conjunction with the Regeneron Great Limerick Run half marathon.

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Officers and soldiers representing every corps and every barracks will complete the half marathon in uniform while wearing a chest rig and day sack, carrying 14 kg.

The 119 Infantry Battalion are based in Lebanon and will simultaneously participate in the fundraiser on Sunday.

Lieutenant Jonathan Hughes told Dublin Live that himself and Sergeant O’Brien both had children who were born prematurely last year.

The pair travelled to Lebanon to serve with the 118 Infantry Battalion on the same day, October 1 , but three days later Sergeant O’Brien had to be urgently repatriated when his son Max was born 12 weeks early.



Lieutenant Jonathan Hughes and Sergeant Eddie O’Brien pictured with children Daisy and Max

On October 24, Lieutenant Jonathan Hughes was also urgently repatriated when his daughter Daisy was born at 23 weeks and weighed just 460 grams.

Both babies received treatment between the NICU in Maternity Hospital Limerick and the Coombe.

Thankfully, they have both since been discharged.

Lieutenant Hughes said he is “over the moon” that his daughter is home in time for the fundraiser after spending 157 days in hospital.

He told Dublin Live: “When we launched the fundraiser in February we didn’t know if Daisy would be home in time for the run but thankfully she is.

“She’ll be there at the finish line. The hope is that we’ll meet Catherine (Lieutenant Hughes’ partner) and Daisy and Sarah (Sergeant O’Brien’s partner) and Max along the route and walk with them to the finish line.

“It was obviously a very difficult situation for us as a family but it’s good to turn a difficult situation into a story that has a positive edge to it.”

“Everybody is prepared. This week has been fairly hectic.

“We’ve received excellent support from the Defence Forces and they’re all getting behind it.

“There’s been coffee mornings throughout the country and support coming in online. Practically every barracks around the country is represented at this stage.

“It’s been incredible. We had hoped that it would garner interest but it’s become more successful than we thought it would be.

“The funds are going to two incredible causes so people have really gotten on board.”

Lieutenant Hughes said he was thankful to Corporal Tracey Doran for getting things organised on the Lebanese side.

“We have approximately 200 personnel completing it in Lebanon at the same time,” he said.

If you’d like to make a donation to the Marching for Maternities fundraiser, click here.



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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.