With the buzz of elections heating up across campus, the spirit of campaigning was in the air. Although outside the Henry Grattan, campaigning of a different kind was taking place.
There were two lads on stationary bikes and a throng of students clad in red t-shirts brandishing donation buckets. “MIND YOUR HEART, LOVE YOUR MIND” was written across the ground, and speakers were pumping out tunes containing the word ‘heart’. All in name of raising money and awareness for Sudden Adult Death Syndrome and mental health.
The mental health service ‘Aware’ teamed up with DCU SU’s designated charity of the year Cycle4Life. The initiative is the brainchild of Cormac Ryan, a hurler, campaigner and occasional DCU student, who was being swamped by impressed onlookers. The back of his t-shirt read:’SO YOUNG, SO FIT, SO SUDDEN’.
In 2012, Ryan was diagnosed with a previously undetected heart condition (Atrioventricular block), which is a major indication of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. “If it hadn’t been detected, I could have lost my life,” Ryan said.
It mustn’t be easy coming to terms with something as life-changing as Ryan’s diagnosis – but he took a positive perspective on it, after being fitted with a pacemaker. Ryan said he “wanted to make the best out of the situation”, which led to the birth of Cycle4Life.
The initiative has already seen massive success, having raised €35,000 euro in 2013 after an 11,000 km cycle around the coast of the country (making Tour de Picnic seem like a quick trip to the shops for the few bits). As well as that, Cycle4Life has raised over €350,000 for Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
Ryan commended the generosity of DCU students and his group of friends and volunteers for the charity’s ongoing success in fundraising.
“I think he’s afraid to get off that bike,” Ryan said mid-interview, looking over to one of the cyclists who was pedalling away despite the unexpected pick-up in the weather. Volunteers committed to hour-long shifts on the bike – much less than is expected for Cycle4Life’s bigger events, where volunteers could be cycling for “up to four or five hours”.
When asked about Cycle4Life’s 2015 fundraising event Ryan said they had considered a cycling trip abroad. But there had already been so much campaigning in Ireland he decided to postpone the idea – while not ruling it out for 2016.
“I’ve had notions of cycling across America. You never know what might happen in the future!”
To get involved with Cycle4Life, to register as a sponsor, volunteer or simply to donate, you can visit their website or find them on Facebook or Twitter (@Cycle4Life_ie)
By Sian Conway