DAVID O’Hare will be pulling on this walking boots in two week’s time to join thousands of people setting off on this year’s Scotland’s Kiltwalk.
And while he could have been forgiven for sitting this one out, he is determined to complete the Wee Wander 3.5miles event to raise money for a hospital unit which says he owes his life to.
Mr O’Hare, from Hurlford, East Ayrshire, says he is lucky to be here after spending days in intensive care earlier this year at Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire. He had been placed on a ventilator after covid symptoms got steadily worse in February.
His condition at home deteriorated and after a GP visited, he ordered an ambulance and Mr O’Hare was admitted to intensive care. He was on a ventilator for 10 days and was almost sent to Aberdeen for specialist treatment, but they had missed the window for the treatment to be effective.
After pulling through and getting home to his wife Nicola, 31, and their children Martin, 13, and Courtnay, 11, he wanted to give something back.
Now the whole family will be taking part in the event on Sunday, September 26 – the first live Kiltwalk event in two years.
“I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who looked after me and got me through this,” said Mr O’Hare. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the care the doctors and nurses gave me. I was taken into hospital and put on a ventilator. I can’t remember anything about that at all and just remember waking up and being taken to a ward. I got to go home just before my son’s 13th birthday on March 4.
“I was still weak and it took a long time to build up my strength. Even now I still feel tired, but I’ve got to push myself.”
It was an anxious time at home for his wife and two children who had also contracted covid.
At one point they had no idea if he would survive even though he is in his 30s and has no underlying health conditions.
Mrs O’Hare said: “I was able to text David and I could phone the hospital, but it was very hard not being able to see him and being separated from him.
“The intensive care unit staff were fantastic and explained everything so well when I phoned. They were amazing.
“There was talk of him being taken to Aberdeen to be put on an ECMO machine to help his lungs recover, but he began to pick up and he remained at Crosshouse. It would have been awful not only being separated but also him being so far away.”
The family were delighted when they were reunited at home and now they are taking on the Kiltwalk together.
Mrs O’Hare added: “We are all doing and just want to raise what money we can and give something back.”
Virtual Kiltwalks were held last year but this month it is making its live return with Scotland’s Kiltwalk.
Backed by entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter, anything raised by those taking part will be topped up by 50% from The Hunter Foundation.
There are two walk lengths to choose from – The Mighty Stride (16.5 miles) that leaves in the morning from Glasgow Green and finishes in Meadow Leisure Centre in Dumbarton or The Wee Wander (3.5 miles) that leaves from Glasgow Green in the afternoon and finishes at the Riverside Museum.
Organisers moved the event date from August to give the vaccine rollout another four weeks and allow as many people as possible the chance to get their vaccine prior to the event.
In April £6.1 million for 1,055 coronavirus-hit charities across Scotland was raised following the 2021 Virtual Kiltwalk Weekend.
Kiltwalkers’ fundraising totalled £4.1 million and, with a £2.05 million 50% boost by The Hunter Foundation, the total has rocketed to an incredible £6.1 million.
Speaking at the time, Sir Tom said: “Sir Tom Hunter said: “At Scotland’s time of need, when the charities you care about really need you, you stepped up and there is not a prouder Scotsman on the planet this morning. From the bottom of my heart, to all of you, thank you for your Kiltwalk Kindness.”
There is still time to sign up for the event and raise money for your chosen charity. Go to https://www.thekiltwalk.co.uk/scotlandskiltwalk
To raise funds for the O’Hare’s venture go to https://fundraising.thekiltwalk.co.uk/fundraising/ScotlandsKiltwalk2021-NicolaOhare