Engineer Matthew Halpin is preparing to tackle the gruelling 250km long Marathon Des Sables in Morocco to raise awareness of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) whilst also raising funds for the Mater Heart House Clinic.
Matthew will embark on the six-day marathon to commemorate his late friend Kevin Hayes, who passed away due to the syndrome in 2017.
Matthew and Kevin became friends during their time at the University of Limerick. Their friendship went from strength to strength when they moved to Cork in third year for their work placement at Eli Lily.
The Mater Heart House provide free heart screenings to identify a range of health complications including SADS.
Matthew was inspired by Kevin’s parents’ efforts to raise awareness for the syndrome and he committed to completing the Marathon Des Sables in his friend's memory.
“Their efforts drove me to try and do something that I could do myself and I heard of the Marathon Des Sables when I first started working in 2015.
“I couldn’t do it due to sports commitments, injuries and COVID so I decided to park the sports for about a year and a half and train for this and complete the marathon for charity,” Matthew said.
The Clare man is currently based in Alicante to train in warm weather conditions ahead of the marathon.
“I was in Alicante in August last summer when we were in the middle of the heatwave. It was about 40 degrees, which is pretty much the desert temperature and that was quite difficult in the first week and a bit, but then after that, it got a little easier once I acclimatised to the heat,” he said.
Approximately one person under the age of 40 dies every week from SADS in Ireland.
“Kevin was from a village called Murroe in Limerick, with a population of about 600 people.
Kevin’s untimely passing led to Matthew getting screened to see if he could be impacted by the syndrome at some stage in his life.
“I went and got screened based on that happening to Kevin so I knew that it wouldn't be something that I was impacted by, and I know some of my friends have done it as well, just to be safe,” he added.
The GoFundMe surpassed the initial goal of €10,000 and is currently over €13,500 at the time of writing.
100% of the proceeds raised will go to the Mater Heart Health Clinic, which has tested over 11,000 people for inherited cardiac conditions since its formation in 2007.
Matthew’s Marathon Des Sables journey kicks off on April 23.