RTE legend Charlie Bird says he's 'getting worse' in heartbreaking health update
Former RTE journalist Charlie Bird has revealed that the Climb With Charlie fundraiser is set to smash the original goal of €1 million and is expected to reach €3 million by June.
In a video message today using voice technology, the veteran broadcaster thanked all those who had supported the cause, raising money for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta House.
However, the 72-year-old, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year, said he cannot hide from the fact that his illness is "progressively getting worse".
In the video, Charlie sat with his beloved dog Tiger and made gestures as the voice recording played and waved goodbye at the end.
"Hi Charlie Bird here with my good friend Tiger. I just want to give you an update on Climb With Charlie," the recording said.
"It is now five weeks since the climb and we have now reached almost a staggering €2.5 million for the two charities. The team have told me that by June we will have reached the breath-taking figure of €3 million.
"This stunning figure is down to you the people all across Ireland and abroad who extended the hand of friendship. I cannot believe it. We set a target of €1 million and we now expect to even go beyond €3 million. This is real love and kindness.
"Lastly, I want to say we have been working with Merrion Press to produce a beautiful coffee table book recording the day of the climb on Croagh Patrick but also a montage of all the other climbs and walks. We have done our best to try and include photographs from as many of these events as possible.
"I cannot hide from the fact that my motor neurone disease is progressively getting worse but while I still can, I’m going to continue to extend the hand of friendship. I would love to hug you all and get Tiger to give you a lick. Thanks, and stay safe."
In an accompanying caption, Charlie wrote: "A message for everyone who went walking and climbing for climbwithcharlie.
"Everyone who showed powerful love and kindness and who extended the hand of friendship. I am finding it hard for me to convey the thanks and the love I have for all of you. Xxxx"
This comes as he recently shared a heartbreaking update about his health saying he faces his 'biggest challenge yet' as he is now struggling to swallow and is eating is turning into a "nightmare".
Taking to Twitter on Tuesday evening, Charlie wrote: "I am lucky I was able to climb Croagh Patrick. But with my voice gone I am now facing my biggest challenge yet.
"My swallow is getting worse. Sitting down now to eat is turning into a nightmare!
"But I can still extend the hand of friendship to everyone. Thanks for your support."
Last year, he set himself the goal of hiking to the top of Croagh Patrick and he said he was 'lucky' to have been able to climb Croagh Patrick last month as his health has since deteriorated.
On April 2, the retired RTE star was joined by thousands, including Ryan Tubridy and Daniel O’Donnell, as he climbed the Mayo mountain – and said he cried “tears of joy” when he reached the top.