Mark Keating has just returned from an almost four month Walk For Their Lives expedition through six countries in the Balkans. He under took the walk to raise funds for two special beds that are needed in St John’s Cancer Ward in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, and similar requirements for a children’s cancer ward in Belgrade, Serbia.
Alone with his dog, Pajo, Mark– who is the CEO of Sandyford-based company Whitewater – went on a voyage inspired by a journey taken 100 years ago this year by his great grandfather and his grandfather-in-law.
His Irish great grandfather was with the London Irish Regiment and his grandfather-in-law was from Serbia. Their stories came together as they had to walk for their lives on the same side during the First World War, and, incredibly, survived.
In October 1915, the last survivors of the Serbian army, government, civilians, and some 30,000 boys were evacuated from their homes and country as they were chased by the German, Austrian and Bulgarian armies out of their homeland.
Some 450,000 people – comprising soldiers, refugees, families and young boys – set off to escape capture by walking over the high mountains of Montenegro and Albania to the relative safety of the tiny island of Corfu.
Mark and Pajo walked 1,990km for 103 days across 6 countries: Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Macedonia, and managed to raise €12,000 for the cause, so far.
S p e a k i n g t o us he said: “My great-grandfather fought and survived and he gave me life and my wife’s Grandfather was the same, so this was a walk to remember the living rather than the dead, and to remember how tough the fight was to live.”
Mark’s quest drew from the “similarities of my great grandfather’s walk for life and the children today who are fighting for their lives to rid themselves of cancer, and that’s where the connection came in and how the story evolved”.
This is not Keating’s first adventure for the cause. In 2013, he undertook a solo charity cycle from Dublin to Belgrade and back to Dublin – a total of 6,080km across 12 countries, to raise €60,000 to buy critical lifesaving equipment for Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin and The Mother and Child Hospital in Belgrade.
Mark wants encourage anybody at all to support the cause and help the children by donating to www.whitewaterfoundation.org.