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GPA Excellence Awards

Do it for Dan earns special recognition in inaugural GPA Excellence Awards

The Do it for Dan campaign which captured the hearts and minds of the nation in 2020 has been chosen as the Chair’s Choice at the inaugural GPA Excellence Awards, the winners of which have been revealed on the Gaelic Players Association’s (GPA) social media channels this week.

The role of inter-county players past and present in driving awareness and donations in support of Dan Donoher was recognised by the judging committee made up of Tom Parsons and Maria Kinsella (Joint Chairs of the GPA’s Transitional National Executive Committee) and Sarah O’Connor (Head of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship at Wilson Hartnell Public Relations)

Dan Donoher, the son of former Laois players Aisling and Niall Donoher, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in late 2019.  Previously there has been no cure for SMA but a new treatment called Zolgensma became available in America leading to the establishment of the Do it for Dan Trust to raise funds to pay for the expensive treatment.  Over €2 million was raised with the support of the wider community.

The GPA Excellence Awards Judging Committee said; “These awards were established to honour the contributions of inter-county players off the pitch.  The Chair’s Choice Award recognises campaigns or projects that have had a massive impact in terms of their objectives and also in bringing people together in support of a common purpose.  The Do it for Dan campaign certainly did that and we’re very proud to honour the campaign and Dan and his family with this award.”

On hearing news of the announcement Aisling Donoher said; “Thanks so much to the GPA for the Chair’s Choice Award and to the entire GAA community for what they did for our little boy.  Thanks to the Do it for Dan committee; without them none of this would have happened. And thanks to the trustees who continue to manage everything for Dan; we are so lucky to have you all.

“It has been a roller coaster of a year but we all had each other.  Dan has taught us, and so many others, how resilient kids are and how SMA will not define him.  We are so proud of him and of how far he has come in the past twelve months, despite everything he has gone through.  He is a determined little boy who will continue to defy all the odds stacked against him.  We will be beside him every step of the way.”

The Chair’s Choice was the final award revealed this week.  The other awards were:

  • Monday: Former Cork hurler Lorcán McLoughlin was named as Scholar of the Year having been nominated by Dublin City University. The other nominees were Waterford Hurler Callum Lyons (WIT) and Laois Footballer Trevor Collins (IT Carlow). (Nominated by colleges and universities)
  • Tuesday: Former Mayo footballer David Brady was recognised for a project he led to help with isolation among older members of our communities as Community Leader of the Year (Individual). The other nominees were Down Camogie’s Aimee McAleenan and Mayo hurler Cathal Freeman. (Nominated by squad reps and players)
  • Wednesday: The Cork and Galway football squads were announced as winners of the Community Leader of the Year (Squad) for their joint fundraising campaign in support of Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice. The other nominees were the Offaly hurlers and the Limerick hurlers. (Nominated by squads and players)
  • Thursday: The Entrepreneur of the Year was revealed. Down’s Fionnuala Carr picked up this award for her work in developing MarVal Power Ltd a business that provides expert analysis and advice to commercial customers in the supply, installation and day to day management of fully certified Energy Technology solutions.  The the other nominees were Kerry footballer Liam Kearney (Box Prepped) and Roscommon hurler Connell Kennelly (Think and Learn Smarter). (Nominated by GPA Personal Development Coaches)

This is the first year of the GPA Excellence Awards which were established to recognise the massive amount of good work being done by inter-county players past and present in support of good causes around the country and in their off-field development.

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