Apr 11, 2024

Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Sports Bursaries

Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Sports Bursaries

Punchestown Kidney Research Fund Sports Bursaries

Previously awarded to:

  • 2017 - Tony Gavigan & Eoghan O’ Neill
  • 2016 - Marie O’ Connor - Finland
  • 2015 - Kieran Murray - Argentina
  • 2014 - Chikoyo White & Robbie Lyons - Poland
  • 2013 - Owen Hurley & Sonia Treacy - South Africa
  • 2012 - Megan Fahy & Owen Kelleher - Croatia
  • 2011 - John Moran - Sweden
  • 2010 - Darren Cawley & Valerie Twomey - Ireland
  • 2009 - Colm Clifford - Australia
  • 2007 - Michael Dwyer - Thailand
  • 2005 - Tony Gartland - Canada
  • 2003 - John Moran - France

Where to start.......... I thank you so much for your sponsorship which allowed me to take part in the 19th World Transplant Games in South Africa.

As most have you may already know I was on dialysis for over 3 and a half years until August 2012 when I got the call that changed my life.... I never dreamt that less than a year later I would be representing Ireland and my Donor in South Africa at the World Games.

The last World Games I attended was Canada in 2005, and then unfortunately due to illness and going back on dialysis I was not well enough to take part.

Thankfully that is all behind me now J

The trip was even more amazing than I imagined it would be...... firstly there was the preparation before we left, me being me I like to set myself a challenge and so I decided that it was the 100m that I would compete in (you may want to take into account that I hadn’t run the 100m since 2010 when I competed in Dublin at the European Transplant and Dialysis Games) so the famous Shay Walker was called upon to help me get ready.  In the time given Shay worked a blinder and had me well oiled and running again with a new energy and a new spark that we both noticed since the days of dialysis.

The day we collected the team kit was when it really hit me that I was well and healthy enough to go to the world games again, sitting listening to Niall Quinn give a lovely talk about how far we had all come and to be proud of our achievements and wearing the Ireland top.

Then the day came and we gathered in the Clarion Hotel at the airport family, friends and media all there to give us a good send off. Two flights, a good few giggles and a lot of games of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” later we arrived in Durban to a fabulous hotel and stunning view of the Indian Ocean. Where we began to meet old familiar faces from other teams and some faces that where new but by the end of the week where old familiar faces too.

The opening ceremony was amazing in so many ways chatting to the other teams, the music, getting photographs, swapping pins, walking into the big conference hall as a team and wearing as much Irish paraphernalia as you can possibly wear.  All of our Irish paraphernalia soon found another home when we came across the kids that had been invited from the local schools. Picture all these South African children waving Irish flags and wearing Irish hats, whistles, boa’s and flower necklaces amazing J Let the Games Begin...

One of the main events that stuck with me was watching the 5km road race, yes there is always the ones who are fantastic athletes and have great ability but sometimes for me it’s the ones who inspire you and remind you why you are at the Games, to take part and celebrate exactly how far you have come and for me that was my friend and team mate Orla Hogan who gave me goose bumps and made me shed a little tear when she crossed the line a true inspiration.

The events during the week continued to be great, lots of medals for the Irish team, fun and frolics with culture night.

Soon it was Friday and the day of the athletics.... even though the nerves had kicked in I have to admit I was really ready to take part. So the heats for the 100m came, I was so proud to be there and running on the track again representing Ireland and my Donor I already felt like I had come so far. I got through the heats and into the final of the 100m to me I had achieved what I came here to do so to get to the final was amazing..... I came 5th in the final and was very happy with a new PB of 16.70. I will be back...

When the athletics were finished there was celebrations in the arena and then myself, and some of the team... you know who you are James Nolan had a little cool down in the Indian Ocean.

There was a gala ball on the final night which was a great way to end a fabulous week of memories and friendships with a fantastic team in a beautiful country J

I couldn’t have raised the money this year to take part in the games so I am truly grateful to the PKRF for your sponsorship; you helped me to celebrate a year transplanted and thank my donor in the best possible way J

Sonia Treacy

Transplant Recipient xx


Joe Burke, James Nolan, Darren Cawley and John "The Bullet" Loftus - Irish 4 x 100 meter relay Team at European transplant and dialysis Games, Wurzberg, Germany 2008.

Michael Dwyer, at the 2007 World Transplant Games in Thailand.

5th European Transplant and Dialysis Games, Wurzberg, Germany

by James Nolan

It is impossible to know where best to start to try to describe the very special week that Transplant Team Ireland experienced at the recent 5th European Transplant and Dialysis Games that were held in Wurzberg, Germany but here goes…

For me sport has always been a hugely important part of my life. From riding round the Punchestown 3 Day Event whilst on dialysis, to trekking Everest and the Andes mountains and being able to compete at 8 very special Transplant and Dialysis Games once I was lucky enough to receive the Gift of Life from my sister Catherine. The one common theme that has run through all the Transplant Games I have been to, is that you realise how special it is to be part of Transplant Team Ireland. The emphasis is completely on participation. There is no one in the Team who worries how good or how bad you do, once you are out there trying your best - to participate to the best of your ability. It is like being a part of a uniquely special extended family.

Sport is hugely important for everyone in life but more so for Dialysis and Transplant Patients. The Games are a fantastic way to set yourself a goal and work on your fitness in order to compete at the Games. Whilst you are in training you become focussed on your goal to participate in a certain sport but when the Games are over you realise that just as important is the fact that you are giving yourself a much better chance in life by getting fit, losing a little weight and meeting lots of new friends. For me personally I had the satisfaction of completing the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter, 800 meter and 4 × 100 meter races during 2 days of competition after enjoying the golf earlier in the week. I also had the pleasure of watching my fiancee Emma McHenry winning the ladies non transplant 5 km road race which was pretty special.

Anyone that wants to witness courage and the right attitude to life only had to look at all the Dialysis competitors. Peter Heffernan (CAPD) and Chikoyo White (Haemodialysis were participating in their first Games. Peter who managed to dialyise himself whilst enjoying one of the many wonderful sight seeing day trips and also managed to swim 5 different competitions in 1 day whilst also dialysing himself 4 times in the same day. Or Chikoyo, who competed in the 100 m and Ball Throw with the biggest smile on her face despite having her competition day sandwiched between 2 of her dialysis days. Or Darren Cawley from Mayo (well known to Kilcullen Ladies Mini Marathon Group) who was one of the Athletes of the Games and has competed as a Transplant Athlete in previous Games but is currently back on dialysis.He ran the 100 metres on Friday morning, followed by the 400 metres on Friday evening and managed the Ball Throw at lunch time. He then went off that evening and spent 4 hours on the life saving dialysis machine and did not get back to the Hotel till 1 am from the hospital on Friday night, yet he came out on the Saturday morning and ran the 200 metres and finished with the 4 × 100 metres that evening. The fact that he managed to do all this in 2 days was super human and the fact that he managed to win all 4 of his individual events despite tough competition and his dialysis was even more commendable.

All of the Dialysis participants showed how to make sure that Life was not being put on hold despite the hardship that dialysis can bring. This special attitude and spirit was mirrored by all the Transplant recipients who showed the immense benefits and a high appreciation of good health having received the GIFT OF LIFE. There was a lady from Austria who not alone was born blind but she had also come through a transplant. She did the 3 k run and 5 k walk and whislt she might not have won a medal she won everyones respect and admiration for her courage. You need to realise that Medals were secondary to the fact that most people competing had won thier own personal race by just being there and that this made for a really special spirit and atmosphere at the Games.

SPECIAL is a word I might have used a lot but it describes the week at the Games, the atmosphere amongst Transplant Team Ireland and the appreciation that we all realize just how lucky we are to be alive, healthy and well enough to be have been able take part in what was a Special Life experience in Wurzberg, Germany.

For those of you out there thinking about getting involved in sport in order to have a healthier lifestyle - just do it!!