A CITY MAN who was told he would never play sports again after a car crash in which his girlfriend died is running the Auckland marathon in New Zealand this weekend in her memory.
On November 14, 2011, 300 miles north of Perth, western Australia, Patrick Gibbs, from Ballinacurra, and his girlfriend Kelly Meehan, 31, from Newmarket-on-Fergus, county Clare, were travelling the nine-hour journey home along the Great Northern Highway, when they collided with another vehicle.
The journey changed their lives forever, and now Patrick has been on a personal journey ever since to reclaim something of his former life.
The couple had moved to Carnarvon, a coastal town of fewer than 5,000 people in Western Australia in 2008 to escape the recession. They had been together for over five years after meeting while studying at Trinity College, Dublin. Ms Meehan, who was the oldest of four sisters and one brother, was born in California but moved back to Newmarket-on-Fergus with her family while still a child.
“I had a great job as an engineer in Australia, that was looking up and up, and I had the girl of my dreams right at my side. Life just seemed to have finally shined on us,” he recalled.
“Well that was the last thought that went through my head, on the Great Northern Highway, before a drunk driver collided head on into our car.
“Kelly was asleep at the time of the accident and never woke up despite the two long hours I spent holding on to desperate hope. To say my life changed that day would be an understatement.”
Patrick, 29, who had represented Ireland in Australian-rules football in 2008 and grew up involved in hurling, lifesaving, and track and field, is running to support Child Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.
He is running not only to celebrate his own recovery from the horrific car crash, but also to honour his aunt and his girlfriend’s memory.
His aunt Maire Enright from county Limerick is battling brain cancer after defeating breast cancer one and a half years ago.
“She is truly an inspirational and heroic woman and I am doing what I can to show we are thinking of her on the other side of the world,” he said.
Gibbs was pinned in the car with both kneecaps fractured, his right collarbone snapped and his right foot crushed under the brake pedal.
Following operations to repair his legs in the hope of returning to sport, he was told by a doctor he would never run a marathon.
“As the words escaped his lips, I’m sure my sterling family and friends smiled knowing it would be the reason to get me out of the bed!
“I had lost the one person I loved the most in my life and I just couldn’t face losing my second great passion. I would walk again, but I was not going to stop there. I was going to push through whatever pain for them to prove nothing is impossible.
“I am running for my aunt, for all those courageous kids and adults that face such an tough challenge everyday and inspire us all with their grace, determination and wisdom.
“It’s time to get off the bench and into the fight, and do our part. This one’s for you, Kelly,” he wrote online, in his fundraising appeal.
While he has no target time for completing the marathon, his fundraising target is $7,000 (€4,300), and to date he has raised close to €4,000.
To make a donation see https://teamccf.everydayhero.com/nz/patrick#post_392909