We write about our good friend Mark O’Brien who is the former chairperson and current first teams’ Men’s captain of Rickmansworth Tennis Club. Tragically, Mark has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND/ALS). MND is a terminal condition that impacts the brain, nerves, and muscles and eventually leads to respiratory failure.
As anyone who has played with or against him and the teams that he has captained will know, Mark has immense spirit and determination. It will therefore come as no surprise that he is not ready to quit quite yet. Quite the opposite in fact!
On Sunday 24th September, Mark will be attempting an official world record for the longest ever recorded unaided open water swim for a person living with MND just across our border with Bucks at Denham Lake (UB9 5HE). The distance, an incredible 10.5km! Subject to the weather conditions and of course, his personal health, Mark hopes to complete this record attempt in something like 4-5 hours.
Mark says, “Whilst I was a little late in life to tennis, it became a huge part of my life. I have loved visiting all the clubs in the county either as a player, captain or spectator. Although I cannot compete anymore; it is still a privilege to be involved in tennis with the various first teams at Rickmansworth. I am immensely grateful for what life has given me and I actually feel really lucky to have experienced so many wonderful memories. Without being too morbid, this is my last swan song as far as sport is concerned and I would be incredibly grateful for any support you are able to offer. My motivation for this challenge is:
- To raise awareness of MND on a national and global basis
- To help and inspire other people living with MND to know that “even the impossible can be possible”
- To raise funds for the MND Association, who support families impacted by MND
- To raise funds for continued MND research to find a cure for MND
- To leave my children, family, and friends with lifelong memories”
Mark’s journey, progress and donation page can be accessed via his dedicated just giving event “https://www.justgiving.com/page/mark-obrien-mndworldrecordswim” where there is also a link to sponsor him and offer our encouragement.
Mark’s story was also recently featured in the Watford Observer and you can read the article here: https://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/23754696.watford-fc-fan-mark-eyes-guinness-world-record-swim/