Johnny the face behind Pieta House fundraiser

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A LOCAL man who was instrumental in setting up the inaugural Darkness into Light fundraiser for Pieta House back in 2009, and is currently fronting a campaign video for their Sunrise Appeal, is encouraging people to get involved in fundraising for the charity on the day when the event was due to take place.

Darkness into Light was due to take place this weekend but has had to be put back to October as a result of the measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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Johnny Fox insturmental in starting the Darkness Into Light campaign pictured with his National Volunteer Award 2019

In the meantime, people are being encouraged to instead wake up at 5.30am on Saturday, May 9, for the Sunrise Appeal, and to watch the sunrise from their houses, to post about it online and to donate to the charity.

Johnny Fox, who lives in Killinarden with his wife Gertie, helped to develop the 5km event, which first took place in the Phoenix Park to raise funds for Pieta House before becoming a worldwide event, after losing his 24-year-old son, Fergal, to suicide in 2008.

Johnny has been a mainstay at the finish line of the Phoenix Park event since it began, where he claps and cheers for those who have reached the finish line because he wants “every person walking to know how important they are”.

Now, with the change of plans that the lockdown measures have brought, Johnny is hopeful that people will still get involved this weekend, and is looking forward to a return to the full event in future.

“We can’t have the walk, because of the virus, so it’s been put back to October 3,” he told The Echo. “This weekend has always been the weekend when we’ve had our get-together for Darkness into Light.

“Instead of being one unit [of people], we’ll all just get up at home and have a look at the sunrise, so it’s still showing solidarity with each other.

“It’s showing solidarity with people who have had or who are having problems, and it’s great to see, especially during the pandemic.

“We’re hoping to adjourn it until October, so in the meantime we’ll get together symbolically on Saturday.”

For further details on how to get involved and donate, visit Darkness into light, and for information on Pieta House and its support services visit www.pieta.ie or call Pieta House on 1800 247 247 or its Dublin South branch on 01 462 4792.

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