In Memory of Beth: Running for LauraLynn & Intel in the 2018 Winter Olympics Torch Relay
By David Prendergast – Beth’s Dad
Several weeks ago, I received a very unexpected and exciting message in my email inbox. It was an invitation from Intel Management to run as a torchbearer ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. I had been chosen in recognition the contribution I have made to LauraLynn Children’s Hospice over the years, as part of the Intel Involved Volunteer Program. I became involved with this initiative following the death of my daughter Beth.
To say such an invitation was a shock would be an understatement but once the idea had settled in, I discussed it my wife Kim and we decided to grab the opportunity with both hands. Given the occasion, we also decided to take our children Harry (14) and Kate (8) on this special trip with us.
Colleagues and friends at Intel, both in Ireland and across the globe, have been with my family on our fundraising and awareness raising journey since 2008. Your network of friends usually feel helpless when you are going through the absolute hell of losing a child, so when we started fundraising to build LauraLynn after Beth’s death, a flood of people came forward to get involved.
Intel Ireland then named LauraLynn as a site signature charity in 2010 which enabled thousands of employees to donate money and time through countless activities and events, from golf classics & supermarket bag packing, to cake sales, shows and charity walks/runs. Intel employees even got involved in to helping design and futureproof the technology infrastructure of the hospice. The company also runs a matched giving program that rewards each hour of employee volunteer time with a ten dollar donation towards their chosen charity.
As you can imagine, my children were wildly excited at the idea of accompanying us to Korea and not least because it fell during term time! Kim and I both lived in South Korea for a couple of years in the 1990s, so we were also excited to go back and see how it had changed. Indeed this is where we first met, while Kim, a Canadian, was teaching English and I was conducting my anthropology PhD fieldwork in the country. Needless to say, our travels formed a huge part of our lives and the children have grown up hearing stories about our experiences there. And now finally they would get to see it for themselves!
To return to revisit old friends and haunts was very poignant; it was particularly special to be able to introduce my children to Korea and a part of their parents’ personal history they have only heard about. In the weeks leading up to the Olympic Flame Relay, my daughter Kate, drawing her on skills gained from Summerhill GAA’s Under 8’s football team, took it on herself to oversee her father’s physical training. As a result, I am glad to report I competently represented both Intel and LauraLynn on Friday November 24th, in the city of Gwangju in South Korea, dressed in the unforgettable Olympic tracksuit and ‘obligatory’ bobble hat and mittens.
There were two of us from Intel running that day – Myung-Sook Kwon, President of Intel Korea ran one stretch and then passed the flame to me for the next leg. The run itself was exhilarating and filled with crowds, cameras and excitement. It was over in a flash, but I well remember Beth next to me as I did the run, by my side as she always is during intense moments of stress or joy. I was delighted to be gifted the torch as a momentum of the occasion.
The entire trip to Korea was incredible. It was superbly organized and my family and I felt thoroughly spoiled by how well we were treated. Harry and Kate have already taken the torch and given talks at their schools.
I want to thank everybody involved in making this trip possible – it was truly the experience of a lifetime and we will treasure the memories forever.
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