Daughter to sky dive in memory of her dad on 21st birthday

(Above) Keeva Abbott, centre, with John Sampson and Paddy Connors.

A young Offaly woman is doing a sponsored sky dive on the day of her 21st birthday in honour of her father who died last year from cancer at the young age of 46.

The sky dive on April 10 is being held to celebrate the lives of two much respected members of the GAA community in Clareen, the Seir Kieran GAA club stalwart Kevin Abbott, who passed away in November, and Lusmagh native Rosaleen Connors, who lost her battle against cancer last August.

Kevin's death on November 19 came less than a year after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A milkman, who friends say always had a smile on his face, he left behind his heartbroken wife Donna and four children. Kevin was also valued member of his local club and wider community, who after his playing career ended became a popular referee.

His eldest child Keeva is one of three people participating in the skydive, which poignantly takes place on the day of her 21st birthday.

Also taking part in the fundraising event for the Midlands Hospice is one of Kevin's former refereeing colleagues and friend John Sampson, who came up with the idea, and his former Seir Kieran club mate Paddy Connors, husband of the late Rosaleen.

Paddy lost his beloved wife to cancer on August 29. The mother of four, who was predeceased by her daughter Melissa, was a member of one of Offaly GAA's most well-known families, the Troys of Lusmagh and was a sister of All Ireland winners John and Jim.

Speaking to the Offaly Independent, one of the organisers of the event, Seir Kieran vice chairman Aidan O'Neill, who was a life-long friend of Kevin's, said that the skydive is a fitting tribute to him.

“Kevin did a sky dive eight and a half years ago. He had a fascination with planes and all things aviation. To think that his daughter is now going to dive out of a plane in his memory the symmetry of it is perfect.

“It is a really sad story but at the same time it is really uplifting and to think that we are going to do some good on of the back of it all is really positive.”

At the time of writing over €17,000 had been raised through online donations with all monies going to the building fund for a new base for the Midlands Hospice in Tullamore that will serve the entire midlands region.

Deeply heartened by the response from people, Aidan says that it is a reflection of the high regard that Kevin and Rosaleen were held.

“Out of something desperately sad it is something very positive. It has given everyone a bit of lift.”

You can donate to the fundraiser by clicking here.

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