Dynamic Duo to undertake 230km challenge for Her Heart Matters

by Rose Barrett
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Dedicated to the memory of Vanessa’s mum, the late Josephine O’Connell, Dublin couple Vanessa O’Connell and Paul Reynolds are taking on an incredible challenge – 230kms over seven days from March 22 to March 29.

As I type, the  dynamic duo are walking and running across Ireland, having left Galway Bay on Friday last week and firmly headed for home, that is, the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire.

Vanessa O’Connell and Paul Reynolds pictured in Sallins during their charity run for the Irish Heart Foundation PHOTO – AISHLING CONWAY

The couple live in Glenageary close to Dun Laoghaire and while they each like to keep fit, this is a serious challenge for both. 

“My mum Josephine died aged 72 years,” said Vanessa. “Neither she nor my dad Brendan realized she had heart issues. She was a fit and healthy looking woman, loved walking the canals, loved to cycle and also loved music and singing. She had run two Montessori schools in her day. We expected her to be with us for years and to enjoy her grandchildren Skye, Amber and Ruby, for years to come. Little Joey arrived in January last and was named after Mum.”

Vanessa, who is a project director in an energy company, RWE claims the love of walking especially by the canals was instilled into all her children by Josephine.

Paul who is a partner in an energy consultancy Everoze, is only too glad to support the Irish Heart Foundation and its Her Heart Matters campaign. As such, they couple have started a GoFundMe page, hoping people will support their fundraiser.

“The Irish Heart Foundation does such great work raising awareness on heart disease,” said Vanessa. “Sadly, Mum died suddenly five years ago in July next; we were totally unaware of her condition. Had she known of her disease, she might be still with us, and enjoying the growing family.

“This is an opportunity to raise awareness of women’s heart disease where one in four women dies from heart disease and stroke – the same as men – yet research has shown that heart disease in women has been under-researched, under-diagnosed, and under-treated for far too long. When women go into menopause, it reduces their oestrogen levels which protects your heart. Women, it seems, have higher rates of heart disease after the menopause.”

John, with dad Brendan, and his late mother Josephine, brother in law Brian Larkin, and sisters Vanessa, Suzanne and Patricia O’Connell

With the full support of siblings, her twin Suzanne, brother John and sister Patricia and Vanessa’s dad Brendan, the pair are well on their way back to Dublin Bay. They hope to arrive near the canal in Ringsend between 2-3pm on Friday 29, and make their way over to the Forty Foot, circa 4pm.

“Mind, that’s dependent on injuries, or aches and pains,” laughed Vanessa. “but it would be lovely to have people cheer us on, over the final leg of our journey.”

RWE and Everoze will kindly match funds raised up to €2,500. Already, the GoFundMe campaign has raised over €6,000 in aid of the IHF’s Her Heart Matters. All donation gratefully received – see https://www.gofundme.com/f/pv-run-coast-to-coast

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