Bellaghy GAC will host The Big Weekend event this week to remember the late Damian Brown and raise money for the charities that helped him and his family during his illness.
Speaking to County Derry Post son Damian, Declan explained how valuable these charities are to his family.
“Macmillan is a charity that you don’t appreciate until you are a part of it. Every time Dad moved there, what they did for him and for us was amazing.
“Dad was sick and they put him at ease. Charis is something that Mammy may have strained more since. Again, you don’t know if you’ll ever need her. She went to them and did well.
Damian’s illness and subsequent death came as a huge shock to family and community. He was an avid sportsman and cyclist, with an exceptional playing record for the Bellaghy club.
“He was a family man. He worked hard. He had no enemies, he was active in the club, loved his football, loved his grandchildren.
“He would have always liked to create a small cycling club in Bellaghy. He almost never would have missed a Sunday morning on the bike. When the football stopped during the confinement, this beautiful weather, me and him were on the stable bike.
“We did Lough Fea for a few days. It was something he liked. He was actually cycling in Donegal two weeks before he was diagnosed,” Declan said.
The rapidity of Damian’s illness came as a great shock to all who knew him.
“He had a headache for about a week and a half. It wasn’t even serious. The paracetamol put him at bay. The fine weather at the time, he attributed to that.
Damian’s eventual diagnosis was Gliobastoma – a form of brain cancer, and the rate at which it claimed his life was relentless.
“Eleven weeks. It’s one of those diseases, brain cancer, that they don’t really know about. It’s so unpredictable.
A hardworking family man, Damian’s illness had an immediate impact on his quality of life.
“From the day and time he was diagnosed and told he couldn’t drive or go to work, that was dad’s life. He was a carpenter, self-employed. A hard worker, never cold.
Not only does the Brown family want to raise money for charity, but also for the weekend to achieve something bigger for the wider community.
“You want to collect as much as possible to give back to charities. But Covid has also starved people of these types of events. You just want to leave a mark that when people leave they had a great weekend.
“You want to get people out. A lot of people have been affected by Covid as well and you just want to put a smile on everyone’s face,” Declan added.
The Big Weekend will consist of a range of events and activities to suit all tastes. There are 5K and 10K races on Saturday as well as a kids’ race and family fun day at the Bellaghy Wolfe Tone course. Sunday will see a 20 and 50 mile cycle with a draw at the end of the cycle.
To find information on all events, or to register or donate, visit @TheBigWeekend2022 on Facebook.