William O’Keeffe from County Louth has been named a Hidden Hearing Hero at this year’s national awards presentation in Dublin today.
Mr O’Keeffe was among twenty national winners, recognised for ordinary and extraordinary acts of kindness, community, and determination that make a difference in Irish society.
Winner of the Sporting Hero award, William was nominated by his daughter Nicole. He is currently a youth worker in an after-school programme for children, and previously worked in an addiction service in the town.
The Louth man has raised thousands of euro for various charities in different ways, including roller skating from Tralee to Limerick in 6 hours, raising €10,000 for Gorta.
In a team of four he pulled a 60-tonne coal truck for about 300 yards, which raised another €10,000. William O’Keeffe was an All-Ireland champion in bodybuilding, weightlifting and power lifting, so his healthy lifestyle helps him complete these charity challenges.
Daughter Nicole says William is completely selfless in everything he does!
Presenting the national award in the ‘Sporting Hero’ category, Stephen Leddy, Hidden Hearing’s Managing Director, said that people like William O’Keeffe are to be celebrated for their immense and selfless acts on behalf of their community.
“Our Sporting Hero winner has a lifelong tradition of helping others, and is a remarkable example to young people of how great things can be achieved when we work together to do something good for our community”, Stephen Leddy said.
Other winners in the 2017 Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards included Cork mother Vera Twomey, who campaigned for cannabis-based treatment for her daughter Ava, who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy.
82 year old Joe MacAvin from Killiney in County Dublin, who is a co-founder of the 3Ts suicide prevention charity, was also honoured at the Heroes award ceremony.
This year’s Healthcare Hero is Dr Phil Halligan, based at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health systems in UCD in Dublin, for her support of students registered with a disability.
Also recognised in the Healthcare category is Watermans Lodge, a day care and respite centre for people with Alzheimer’s, in Ballina, Co Tipperary. Their award was accepted by Christina McKenna.
In the Triumph over Adversity category, cystic fibrosis sufferer Jillian McNulty was acknowledged for her recent campaign for the new CF drug Orkambi to be made available in Ireland.
A member of the Dublin-based coast guard helicopter was also honoured, as were young heroes 11-year-old Archie Naughton from Roscommon, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and a big hearted nine-year-old, Kara Rose Black from Buncrana in County Donegal, who has raised thousands for charity and donated her hair to make wigs for children having cancer treatment.
Open to young and old people from all walks of life, the Hidden Hearing Hero Awards has been run since 2011, and invites nominations from members of the public in a number of categories.
The awards scheme is supported by Hidden Hearing, but nominees are not necessarily deaf or hard of hearing, according to Stephen Leddy.
“Hidden Hearing backs the Heroes awards programme because, like our hearing, special people are sometimes taken for granted, and are maybe not fully appreciated until they’re not around”, he said at the 2017 awards presentation.
Hidden Hearing also made a €2,000 donation on the day to Crumlin Children’s Hospital, which was accepted by Dee McMahon, Financial Director of the hospital.
Broadcaster Mary Kennedy was MC at the glittering awards presentation in the InterContinental Hotel in Dublin.
Celebrities and media personalities on hand to congratulate the 2017 Hidden Hearing Heroes included Aisling O’Loughlin, Lorraine Keane, Nuala Carey, Alan Hughes, Karl Broderick, sports star Tony Ward, chef Kevin Dundon, singer Melanie McCabe and actors Maclean Burke, Tony Tormey and Claudia Carroll.