Mullingar girl's fundraiser highlighted at WHO press conference in Geneva

Photo - Karen Forde doing her squats challenge.

The efforts Karen Forde is going to in support of the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO) have caught the attention of its director-general, no less.

In the COVID-19 press briefing from the WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 20, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke about the “outpouring of support” for the Solidarity Response Fund, which at that stage had reached a record $66m.

He said there were “many stories that really touched our hearts, and in Ireland, Karen Forde is staying active and pledging 4,000 squats in a GoFundMe campaign to support the fund”.

“Solidarity is what we need and with that kind of solidarity, which is more infectious than the virus itself, we will be able to stop this virus,” he said.

The Westmeath Examiner contacted Karen, who is from Newbrook Grove, Mullingar, to find out more.

Karen is a senior software engineer with WalmartLabs in Dublin, where she now lives. She is into fitness, and did a similar charity fundraiser last October, for Women’s Aid.

“That was a challenge of 2,000 squats, which I just found online. Then I was lying in bed a couple of weeks ago, wondering what I could do from home to try to help this situation, and I decided I’d double up on the number of squats, since I’m at home and I have nothing to do anyway, and try to raise money for the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.

“The United Nations Foundation contacted me on Instagram because they found my fundraiser and they featured it in two articles and it was called out on the WHO press conference, which I just saw last night – I can’t believe it!”

Karen said she chose squats as an exercise she thought would be achievable, more than planks, and the target of 4,000 is over 30 days.

“I try to do 300 or 400 every day, so I have 2,500 done already (starting mid-March). I usually do it in 50s or 100s, if my legs are sore, I do 50. Whenever I’d normally take a coffee break, I’d just do some squats.”

“When she set up the fundraiser, Karen had stated that when it reached €1,000 she would match that.

Today she said: “I’ve now decided to split that into two, and now that I’ve reached €500, I’m going to donate my own €500 to the fund so they at least have that straight away, and if I get to another €500, I’ll match that again.”

Karen’s family are still in Newbrook Grove and she comes home regularly to visit them and her friends.

You can contribute to her fundraiser at gofundme.com; and follow her on Instagram.

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