The son of Co Armagh man who died while undergoing heart surgery last year is raising funds for the foundation he says gave him an extra 10 years with his dad.
Stephen McCann, who was from Killicomaine in Portadown, was just 61 when he died last April.
His son – also called Stephen – said his dad was “always there for his family”.
He has decided to run the Manchester Marathon in memory of his dad and to raise vital funds for the British Heart Foundation.
“Bring me back to the start of this day 3/10/2021, what a perfect day it was,” Stephen wrote on his Crowdfunder page.
“Personally that date will stay with me forever not just because I ran a marathon but because it’s the last time I heard the words ‘I’m proud of you son’ from my old man.
“I said I wouldn’t fundraise again for a marathon because it’s a lot of added pressure but this one is so close to me and my heart. It really means the world to me the British Heart Foundation and without them we wouldn’t have had the last ten years with my dad.”
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Stephen, who now lives in Newton-le-Willows, explained: “[My dad] had his first heart attack when he was 32, so that was quite young, while he was living in County Armagh in Northern Ireland.
“He was cycling to work one day when it happened. He then went on to have a further two heart attacks and in the end had a defibrillator implanted. This went off one night last year and shocked him 22 times in one episode. He later had his fourth heart attack and a stroke before he sadly died while having surgery last April.
“Everyone was of course absolutely devastated, he was like the glue that held everything together. He was always there for us.”
Adding to his Crowdfunder post, Stephen had these words for his dad: “The last time you said you were proud of me I will never forget. It was just after I ran the London Marathon and I was too tired to take it all in and understand what it meant and I just shot you down and said thanks before I hung up.
“I never ever told you what them words meant to me and I will never get the chance to (me being a man, too proud) that’s one thing I learnt from you, is to never show weakness and stay strong; die on your feet instead of living on your knees.
“One thing for sure, I will make you proud come April. I will smash my PB marathon time, that you have my word. Love you and miss you and I cant wait till our next whiskey.”
Stephen will raise funds for the British Heart Foundation. You can donate here.