Cork marathon challenge honours soulmate, dad and friend... gone too soon

Ricardo Ferreira never got to meet his baby daughter, as he suffered a brain aneurysm and died. CHRIS DUNNE finds out how friends plan to honour him by running the Cork City Virtual Marathon
Cork marathon challenge honours soulmate, dad and friend... gone too soon

Leva Voltmane and Ricardo, who died aged 25 after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm.

When Ricardo Ferreira was painting the nursery and getting it ready for his new daughter; his world was shining brightly with colour, hope, and joy.

And then everything went dark.

He never got to meet Mia Rose. Ricardo, aged 25, collapsed at home in Blackpool with a ruptured brain aneurysm last April. Ricardo died two days later, on April 26 in Cork University Hospital.

Every day Mia Rose, now aged seven months, lights up everyone’s life making the world brighter and more beautiful for them.

“Mia is so like Ricardo,” says her mum, Leva Voltmane, who was comforted by the arrival of the couple’s beautiful baby girl who so closely resembles her late father.

“Mia gave me something to live for,” says Leva referring to the horrific months following Ricardo’s death.

Baby Mia Rose, who never got to meet her dad.
Baby Mia Rose, who never got to meet her dad.

Ricardo’s girl is always laughing and playing peeping games with her mum.

“It is amazing how funny she is,” says Leva.

“She is the funniest, happiest baby, just like her dad!” 

Because Ricardo died so tragically and so prematurely and because he was surrounded by a loving family and wonderful loyal friends; John Connery, Jamie Coughlan, Derek Heaphy, Robbie Cahill and Cian Ryan, all part of Team Ricardo, are set to run the Cork City virtual marathon and virtual half-marathon on the same day, June 6 to raise money for Leva and Mia.

“We also want to raise awareness about, and encourage others to learn about brain aneurysms,” says John.

A bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall that go undetected can cause brain aneurysms. As it turned out Ricardo was born with AVM, (Arteriovenous Malformations), which are defects in the vascular system, consisting of tangles of abnormal blood vessels. He lived 25 years without any symptoms which, as a result, went untreated and caused his death leaving a huge void in the lives of those he left behind.

John is up-front about his deep feelings for his friend and his ‘brother’.

“The day Ricardo died we lost a son, a brother, a loving partner, and a great and trusting friend and, most importantly, an amazing father-to-be, who never got to meet his daughter Mia Rose,” says John.

“Ricardo would have been an amazing dad.” 

John knew his best pal inside and out.

“Ricardo was a healthy and a fit individual who always strived to better his own life and the lives of those around him,” says John.

“He was a huge football fan and his absolute favourite team was FC Porto. Not only did he follow football; he played it very well. Throughout the years he was part of different football teams and he never said no to a game of ball amongst his friends.” Team Ricardo are ready for action.

“This fundraiser is a memorial to Ricardo and also to help Leva and Mia Rose in their future,” says John.

“I will be running the Cork City virtual Marathon at 7am and the Cork City virtual Marathon at 5pm, 40 miles in total, to honour Ricardo and to keep his spirit alive.” John will have Ricardo close to his heart.

“I will be running in his football team’s FC Porto jersey,” says John.

He’ll be flying the colours for his friend.

“I’ll be wearing Ricardo’s favourite number; number 10,” says John.

Left to right, Jamie Coughlan, Derek Heaphy, Robbie Cahill, John Connery and Cian Ryan.
Left to right, Jamie Coughlan, Derek Heaphy, Robbie Cahill, John Connery and Cian Ryan.

The troops will fall in beside John, who is a manager with Dunnes Stores in Carrigaline and who clocks up 60 miles a week 6 days a week to get marathon - ready to support his friends, Ricardo, Leva, and Mia Rose.

“I’m in the best shape of my life,” says John.

He is superman.

“I am feeling fit and strong.” He is getting a lot of help from his friends.

“The lads are all joining in,” says John.

The lads are revved up.

“They are very proud to be doing something to remember Ricardo,” says John.

“We have good motivation and we are out training every morning and every evening come rain, hail, or shine. We are prepared for all weathers. This is a day to remember Ricardo.” 

The marathon men are prepared for all the support they can get for their friend Ricardo and his family.

“I would ask people to join me on this day and run/walk the full or half-marathon for Ricardo and for his daughter, Mia,” says John.

John, dad to Aria and Jack, knows just how much this magnificent gesture will mean to Leva and Mia Rose.

“This, by no means will help with the emotional distress Ricardo’s family have been facing,” says John.

“However, we really hope that these donations will ease their financial instability and go towards their general well-being and overheads now faced with the loss of one critical income into the household. All proceeds will go directly to Ricardo’s partner, Leva.” 

John’s amazing feat will help others too.

“Ricardo’s parents along with Leva, would also like to use this opportunity to encourage everyone to go for MRI and CT scans as these can detect any abnormalities in the brain, thus helping detect AVM.”

 John, in the best shape of his life, still pines for his friend who was a precious friend of the family.

“Ricardo and Leva always called around to ours, to Magda and I” says John.

Ricardo was a friend indeed.

Leva Voltmane and daughter Mia.
Leva Voltmane and daughter Mia.

“Ricardo and Leva were always very good to us,” says John.

“They were always willing to help us out, offering to mind the kids while we went shopping or if we were going out for a meal.” The foursome were a team.

“We were all very good friends and we got on really well together.” There is a big void now where Ricardo’s cheerful presence had once filled.

“We miss him big time,” says John.

“Of course we do. Ricardo was big on love and he had the most generous spirit.” John, in the best shape of his life, says he is preparing to be mentally ready for the emotional day on June 6 th when he will run 40 miles in one day, going the full distance for Ricardo.

“That will be the biggest part,” says John.

“Wearing the number 10 shirt and staying focused to get over the line.” 

The bottom line for John is to support Leva and her little girl who has the biggest beaming smile you ever saw reflecting the whole lot of love going on around her. Her daddy’s love will always shine through.

“Ricardo had just finished working on our room to make it into the nursery that day,” says Leva recalling what should have been one of the happiest days of her life but which tragically turned out to be the the worst day of her life.

“Ricardo was so happy,” says Leva.

“He was always happy.” His happy life was cut short due to an undetected condition.

“He collapsed in front of me,” says Leva.

“At first, I thought he had fainted but then I saw he wasn’t breathing.

I had to do chest compressions and CPR for 11 minutes until the ambulance got there.” The aftermath was awful.

“We found out from the post-mortem that Ricardo suffered from AVM, a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.” “The only way we could have known would have been an MRI or CT scan.” Leva doesn’t want anyone else’s happiness destroyed in the event of losing a loved one to AVM.

“If you have headaches, feel dizzy, or feel tired for no reason; don’t brush it under the carpet,” says Leva.

“Go to your GP if you have concerns.” 

Leva, who says she is keeping busy, will have less concerns about her future and that of her daughter now that John and Team Ricardo are rowing in to help them move forward with their lives without Ricardo.

The world is looking brighter.

“Times are tough for everyone so it’s been amazing to see how many people care,” says Leva.

“It’s amazing to see how many people are willing to help and how loved Ricardo was.” 

Ricardo’s generous spirit lives on and three people live on because of him.

He saved three people’s lives since his death. His heart, one lung and his liver were successfully transplanted after he died.

His daughter Mia Rose and her mother Leva are strong together.

“I had to stay strong for the baby,” says Leva.

“The pregnancy saved me. It gave me something to live for.” Leva and Mia Rose have a whole lot of living to do.

“Mia Rose got the best of the two of us,” says Leva.

Mia is blessed with happy genes and a bright future ahead with her daddy’s soul-mate.

“Now, I’ll always have a bit of Ricardo here with me,” says Leva who is making her way back to happiness.

*To donate: https//

More in this section

Sponsored Content


Catch up on the latest episode of Annie May and the Hit Brigade written and read by  Mahito Indi Henderson.

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more