Croí’s Golden Ticket Raffle is Here, Just in Time for Christmas!

 

**A Message From Christine Flanagan, Croí’s Director Of Fundraising**

The last two years have brought us all on a journey. We have been through hard times and have dealt with loss in ways unimaginable. However, we have also come together as a community and have supported one another through it all. This Christmas, more than ever, we at Croí Heart and Stroke Charity need your continued support. Our Golden Ticket Raffle is the perfect way to show your giving spirit. 

I hope you’ll let me tell you about how your generosity can save lives. It’s a story of how support for Croí Heart and Stroke Charity matters to families like in the case of Pat Fox from Elphin, Co Roscommon. And at this time of year, when we hold loved ones close to our hearts, I hope it shows how you can help entire families when you participate in our Golden Ticket Raffle. As we come to the end of 2021, we are in urgent need of generous friends. Two years of the pandemic have dealt a terrible blow to our financial support … but people like Pat don’t need us any less now. That’s why our Golden Ticket Raffle is so critical.

Pat Fox family portrait for the Golden Ticket Raffle
The Fox Family

Each ticket costs just €5, and there are so many great cash prizes to win, with a cash fund of €5,000! Even if you only take one ticket, it will help, but please sell as many as you can. They make great gifts, and you’ll be providing lifesaving gifts to people like Pat. 

Pat’s Story

Pat was a healthy marathon runner as a young man, but decades of long, stressful hours building a business took its toll. In 2005, he suffered a heart attack that required urgent intervention, with Pat needing two stents. Like most people after such a traumatic experience, Pat was frightened and anxious. Every sensation in his chest left him wondering if his life was about to end. His wife and his daughter were even more afraid than he was. When families are confused in the face of heart disease or stroke, they turn to Croí. You can help make sure we’re always here. Through the Golden Ticket Raffle, you’ll help lead the fight to prevent heart disease and stroke in Ireland. You’ll save lives and promote recovery and well-being. 

You see, over the years, Pat made the effort to restore his health. Despite his efforts, Pat’s body still struggled, and two years ago, he had a stroke that damaged some of his memory and verbal skills. He has worked hard to recover these and to continue taking steps to improve his health. He found help by accessing free health programmes from Croí including fitness and lifestyle change programmes, and also by checking in by phone with the Croí health team on the Heartlink West helpline when he had questions. Pat told me how life-changing the support of Croí has been: “I spend a lot of time reading food labels. Thanks to Croí, I know what to avoid. Croí taught me that my heart is a muscle. I didn’t know that. Now I know I have to exercise that muscle to keep it healthy. I exercise 45 minutes every single day!” 

Pat credits the Croí health programme he completed last Christmas with keeping him alive, and he is now a regular participant in our weekly Heartlink West virtual chats, webinars and exercise classes. Thanks to the support of generous friends, we converted many of our programmes to online when COVID-19 made group meetings unsafe. That turned out to be a lifesaving gift to Pat. 

Pat and Carol Fox portait photo
Pat and Carol Fox

You see, in March, Pat was doing his usual morning walk when he felt a little strange with some tightness around his chest. At first, he thought maybe it was just something he ate. “In past times, I would have just pushed onward. But because of what I learned from Croí, I stopped. And when the same thing happened the next day, I went to see a doctor.” He went in for tests, and it was good that he did because he had a serious blockage in a main artery going to his heart and needed another stent to prevent a heart attack! His doctor said, “If you had kept walking, you would have been in serious trouble.”

 If it wasn’t for the generous support of people like yourself, Pat may not be with his family this Christmas. Through your support of our annual Golden Ticket Raffle, you will help support and educate thousands of individuals like Pat to help them recover from a heart attack or stroke, and help prevent recurrences. That’s how you could save lives!

How You Can Help: The Golden Ticket Raffle 

And that’s why I ask you to help make our Golden Ticket Raffle a huge success this Christmas. You can buy tickets yourself or sell them to friends, neighbours, or work colleagues. We even have an online option — just visit www.croi.ie/raffle

The raffle takes place on December 20th, so there’s even time to request more tickets. Every ticket you sell helps provide education, lifestyle programmes, cardiac research, a home from home in our Courtyard Apartments, and support programmes for families who are dealing with fear and stress caused by heart disease and stroke. 

Pat and his family are eternally grateful to Croí. They encourage you to support the Golden Ticket Raffle this year. Pat says, “As a family, we will never forget the kindness that Croí has shown to us and we hope that we can repay you in the future.” In fact, Pat is planning his own fundraising event in aid of Croí as a way of giving back. 

Sincerely, 

Christine Flanagan, Director of Fundraising

 

Croí’s Top Tips for a Healthy Christmas!

While Christmas doesn’t have a reputation for being the healthiest time of the year, there are a few ways that you can make it that bit healthier and maintain some healthy habits over the festive season.

christmastreeFirstly, try not to stress if your exercise or healthy eating routine goes out the window. It’s 2 weeks out of 52 in the year and after the year we’ve had, it’s time for a bit of a celebration! However, be mindful that the celebration doesn’t stretch out to a month or more..

Be wary of how early you stock up on your favourite boxes of Christmas chocolates, biscuits and sweets. While we may have the best intentions of leaving them unopened until Christmas week, does that ever really happen? And with us all likely having a lot less visitors and guests calling to our houses over the festive period, we probably don’t need to have as many treats in stock ‘for the guests’…

Watch out for the high levels of salt and saturated fat in common finger foods such as pastries, sausage rolls, quiches, spring rolls, mini pizzas, cheeses and cured meats. If in doubt, use our handy traffic light card to read your food labels or have a look at our healthier canapé suggestions. Excess salt in our diet can lead to raised blood pressure while high intakes of saturated fat lead to raised cholesterol levels and weight gain.

Be mindful of how much alcohol you consume. Alcohol can negatively effect our physical and mental health and can impact on our relationships. With Christmas 2020 bound to be a different one for many reasons, be mindful of how much alcohol you are having and how it affects you. Why not try some of the many alcohol free beers, wines, spirits and sparkling wine that are available in most supermarkets now or try some of these tasty mocktail recipes? For more information on alcohol click here.

Try to keep some sort of routine. Whether that be sticking to a healthy breakfast rather than the leftovers from the selection box, getting out for a daily walk or scheduling in a quick home workout, make sure you have some structure to your day and take some time out to focus on you. Why not have a look at some our Croí at home workouts.

While Christmas generally isn’t the ideal time for focusing on a healthy diet, there are some ways you can ensure that you maintaining healthy habits and nourishing your body. For example, make sure you include some fruit and vegetables every day. Why not add some lovely winter berries or fruit salad to your breakfast or have a fruit based dessert. Make the most of the lovely in season vegetables on offer this time of year. Not sure what’s in season? Click here.

Be mindful of your portion sizes. Because there are so many tasty foods on offer during Christmas, it can be hard to resist sampling a bit of everything. A simple way of being able to have a bit of what you fancy but still being mindful of your waistline is to watch your portion sizes. This goes for everything from the portion size of your dinner, to the amount of chocolates you have while watching your favourite Christmas movie to the glass of wine you have in the evening. Try to be mindful of your portion sizes and your hunger levels – check out our feature on mindful eating here.

We hope you have a healthy and happy Christmas!

Healthy Christmas Recipes

Tired of endless scrolling, looking for inspiration for the perfect recipe for finger food? Or, trying your hand at cocktail making, but can’t seem to find the right recipe? Don’t worry!

Croí have compiled all of our favourite recipes for you to try over the Christmas season. We are bound to have every recipe you need for any dish you desire! Oh, and did we mention? They’re also healthy and delicious!

Crudités and Dips

Why not change things up a bit this year and instead of the usual fat and salt laden finger foods, experiment with a selection of healthier crudités and dips. Here’s some links to some of our favourites from the internet:

To complete your healthy platter, why not add:

  • Chopped up carrots, peppers and celery to use for dipping.
  • Some unsalted crackers and breadsticks.
  • Finish off your platter with a selection of unsalted mixed nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and fruit such as grapes, mixed berries, figs and cherry tomatoes for a pop of colour.

Healthier Canape Selection

If you’re trying to be mindful of your salt and fat intake over the Christmas period, why not try some healthier finger food alternatives. We’ve linked some of our favourites below:

Mocktails

This year, lots of people are trying alcohol free alternatives to their favourite beers, wines and spirits and there are so many different options to choose from. Why not get creative and whip up an alcohol-free cocktail at home? From virgin mojitos to alcohol free passionfruit martinis, we’ve linked some our favourites below:

*Cocktails and mocktails are high in sugar, so avoid or use sugar free mixers if you have diabetes.

Christmas Dinner

Arguably, the best meal of the year. So, even if you are trying to keep it relatively healthy and keep the salt and fat content to a minimum, there is no reason to skimp on flavours. Luckily, turkey is a lean meat, low in saturated fat and the typical side dishes of potato and vegetables do not need to be cooked in butter, goose fat or covered in gravy to be tasty. Play around with flavours and take some inspiration from the recipes linked below, such as these paprika roast potatoes, chill charred brussels sprouts, lemon thyme carrots and mulled red cabbage with clementine’s.

Healthier Desserts

Why not mix up your Christmas dessert offerings and include some slightly healthier ones. Think delicious fruit based desserts, such as grilled pineapple, baked apples, lighter crumbles and fruity pavlovas.

Turkey Leftovers

Not sure what to make with your leftover turkey? Sick of turkey curry? This year why not get creative and whip up a Vietnamese Turkey Pho, Fruity Moroccan Turkey Tagine or even a Korean Turkey Rice Pot. Just because you can’t travel doesn’t mean your tastebuds can’t!

Happy Cooking!

Send Hope and Love this Christmas with Croí Cards

Inspired by the hopeful words of Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, Croí has launched its 2020 Christmas Card Collection, featuring extracts from the President’s poem, Take Care:

In the journey to the light,

the dark moments

should not threaten.

Hold firm.

Take care.

Come home

together.

The special 2020 edition cards (12 total) feature new images, including a stunning snowy photograph of the Long Walk in the Claddagh, Galway, and the majestic Mount Errigal in Donegal. All cards carry words from the poem Take Care and a Christmas greetings in both Irish and English. The pack costs just €6.99, with all proceeds supporting Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity, in the fight against heart disease and stroke. Cards are printed in Ireland, supporting Irish jobs.

It’s been a tough year. Let your loved ones know that you are thinking of them, especially if you cannot be with them this Christmas. Send hope and love with a Croí Christmas card.

The 2020 Croí Christmas cards are available to purchase through local outlets or online at www.croi.ie/ChristmasCards.

Support Croí’s Golden Ticket Raffle this Christmas

A message from Christine Flanagan, Croí’s Director of Fundraising

As we come to the end of this hard year, I hope you and your loved ones are safe, and that you’ll be able to be with each other at Christmas.

Sharon and her husband, Noel

However, Christmas isn’t an easy time for some. Sharon used to love Christmas, but she says, “Ever since my mum died of a heart attack, it’s been hard. She was too young!”

Watching a family member suffer is a heart-breaking experience. That’s why, with your help, Croí Heart and Stroke Charity acts as a safe haven to families whose loved ones have been rushed to hospital for emergency heart or stroke care.

COVID-19 has upended the entire world, and Croí is no exception. People with heart disease who get COVID-19 can be at a much greater risk. Yet most of the events that usually support our work have been cancelled. That’s why, this year, our annual Golden Ticket Raffle campaign is more important than ever.

Tickets are just €5, with a €5,000 cash fund. Most importantly, each ticket you sell will help Croí keep families like Sharon’s together.

Sharon hasn’t only been the terrified loved one of a patient. She’s been a patient fearing for her life, too. Two years ago, when Sharon was just 40, a cardiac stress test showed she had a heart condition so serious her doctor said she shouldn’t even go home. She was told to go straight to Galway University Hospital for further tests and evaluation.

At Galway, it was discovered that Sharon needed immediate surgery to insert a cardiac stent to prevent a heart attack. She was kept in hospital for her safety.

Sharon was terribly frightened and anxious. She needed her family, especially her husband Noel, to be with her. But they lived five hours away in Donegal. The idea of staying in an expensive Galway hotel indefinitely with the whole family just added unnecessary stress.

Sharon and Noel

When one of Sharon’s nurses saw how distressed Noel was to go back to Donegal so far away, she called Croí. The nurse knew that, thanks to you, we provide over 100 families a year a place to stay in Galway at the Courtyard Apartments at Croí House, where they can be close to loved ones during cardiac treatments. These apartments are funded entirely by donations from people like you and fundraisers like the Golden Ticket Raffle.

This made all the difference. Noel could be with Sharon all day long, and return to a private apartment to shower, sleep and recover. And he was able to bring Caitlín, Sharon’s oldest daughter, with him from Donegal.

Caitlín told me, “That meant so much to me. I was unsettled at home in Donegal, with Mum in the hospital. I felt much better in Galway with her.”

Sharon’s fears were relieved with Noel and her daughter nearby.

Sharon’s dad was so grateful for what Croí did for his daughter and her family, he wanted to do his part. He held an epic fundraiser for Croí, driving his 1961 Vintage Tractor from Mizen Head to Malin Head to raise €12,000 to help prevent heart disease!

Tragically, not long after his amazing effort, Sharon’s dad had a heart attack himself and passed away — despite having no prior symptoms. In addition to her grief about losing a second parent to heart disease, Sharon also became worried about Noel, who had high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

So when Croí opened HeartLink West, a special telephone helpline, in May, Sharon and Noel called. Together with the nurses of HeartLink West, Sharon and Noel’s family came up with a plan to address and improve Noel’s health concerns. As they need continued consultation, Sharon’s mind is put at ease, knowing that the support they need is only a phone call away.

Sharon and Family

The impact of heart disease on a single family like Sharon’s shows just how common it is in Ireland, and how critical Croí’s mission is. Sharon lives every day with the pain of loss, and worries about her own health. She is terrified for the health of her loved ones.

She asked me to tell you, “Please do whatever you can for Croí! It’s a great cause!”

What would help so much right now is for you to help make our Golden Ticket Raffle a huge success this Christmas. Each ticket costs just €5, and there are so many great cash prizes to win, with a total prize fund of €5,000!

It’s easy to sell tickets to friends, neighbours or work colleagues, and we now have an online option. Just go to www.croi.ie/raffle and enter your unique ID#. You can also buy tickets for yourself or use them as gifts. The raffle takes place on the 21st of December, so there’s time to request more tickets. The more tickets you have, the more chances you have to win amazing cash prizes. And every ticket you sell helps provide education, lifestyle programs, cardiac research, and support services like HeartLink West — as well as a comforting place to stay at Courtyard Apartments for families who are dealing with fear and stress.

You’ll help heart patients and families, too, so please sell as many Golden Tickets as you can and return the funds in the enclosed envelope. Every Golden Ticket counts!

Sincerely,

Christine Flanagan

Director of Fundraising

Croí Dietitian Tips for a healthy Festive Season!

by Croí's lead dietitian, Suzanne Seery

Be Consistent in Your Eating Habits
Maintaining a regular meal pattern throughout the festive season can help prevent over-eating at meal times or snacking. By sticking to regular meals, you can enjoy a few treats and achieve a healthy balance.

“All foods fit, it’s the portion size that matters!”
A healthy relationship with food comes from being less restrictive and enjoying all food groups. You can enjoy larger portions of healthy foods while still being able to enjoy smaller portions of the treats you love.

Combat Stress with Good Mood Food
As much as we love Christmas, it can be a stressful time. Eating your veggies is key in helping manage stress and helping your immune system fight off the dreaded cold and flu! Vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins can be depleted with stress. Vegetables that are in plenty supply over Christmas such as cabbage, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are a super source of these nutrients.

Less Sugar & More Spice
Replace some of the sugar you eat with traditional Christmas spices for fabulous flavour and some can even help soothe digestive upsets such as ginger & cinnamon.

Be Mindful in Your Eating
This is the perfect time of year to practice mindful eating. With all the work that goes into preparing meals at Christmas, once you are sitting at the table, take a moment to slow down and relax. Take a breath, enjoy the sensation of the food in your mouth. Slowly chew each mouthful savouring the flavour and texture. Slowing our eating has been clinically proven to help prevent over-eating and indigestion.

Go Easy on the Alcohol
Although it may make us feel a bit merry at the time, alcohol can affect our skin, cause bloating and bloodshot eyes. It can also affect our mood and mental health.  Try adding some sparkling water to your wine to make a spritzer, choose bottles of beer and lower alcohol options instead of pints. Watch those Christmas cocktails too, they can be very high in sugar. Choose slimline tonic or sparking water as a mixer. Alternating with a tall glass of sparkling water with ice and some citrus slices can be just as refreshing and enjoyable!

Beware of the Buffet
Christmas parties bring with them platters of plenty. If heading out for a Christmas event, try and stick to your routine during the day as much as possible and have a light snack or meal beforehand. This will help curb your intake of  high fat, sugar and salt snacks that are usually served up this time of year. Have a little of what you fancy and enjoy it!

Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The party season can be exhausting and if we are tired and low in energy, it can be so much easier to be less active and indulge in the high sugar and high fat foods. Ensure you are getting enough sleep to enable your body to fully recharge so it is ready to rumble again the next day.

Show off Your Christmas Moves
Whether it’s getting out for a walk, taking a dip or going for a bike ride, make time for some exercise over the Christmas. Going for a walk in a local park is a great way to catch up with friends! Now is also a good time to set yourself an exercise challenge for the New Year. Fun runs are great events to get involved in. Your local county Sports partnerships website should provide details of sporting events in your area.

Looking for an activity to take part in over the Christmas? Why not join Croí Friends in Annaghdown for their Annual St. Stephen’s Day Turkey Fun Run!

Healthy Christmas swaps!

Swap:

  • 50g creamy/cheesy dips for 50g salsa (Saving 13g fat, 111kcal)
  • 1 large (70g) chicken goujon for 2 mini chicken satay skewers (Saving 6g fat, 137kcal)
  • 2 small sausage rolls for 2 cocktail sausages (Saving 1g fat, 24kcal)
  • 1 (50g) vegetable samosa for 1 ball (17g) of falafel (Saving 2.5g fat, 61kcal)
  • 2 cheese straws for 1 large breadstick (Saving 6g fat, 75kcal)
  • 25g crackers for 25g of vegetable sticks (Saving 5g fat, 110kcal)
  • 30g Stilton cheese for 30g goat’s cheese (Saving 4g fat, 67kcal)
  • 100g sausage stuffing for 100g chestnut/fruit based stuffing (Saving 15.2g Fat, 90kcal)
  • 100g roast potatoes for 100g Boiled Potatoes (Saving 4.4g Fat, 40kcal)
  • 1tbsp brandy butter for 3tbsp low fat custard (Saving 5.2g fat, 54kcal)
  • 2tbsp double cream for 2tbsp Greek yoghurt (Saving 14.2g Fat, 117kcal)
  • Luxury bread sauce for bread sauce made with semi-skimmed milk (Saving 262kcal)
  • 1 tsp butter/oil on vegetables for herbs/spices/lemon zest to flavour vegetables (Saving 4.1g fat, 37kcal)
  • 150ml Bailey’s for 150ml white wine (Saving 19g fat, 340kcal)
  • 200ml hot chocolate with whole milk & cream for 200ml Hot Chocolate with semi-skimmed milk & mini marshmallows (Saving 9g fat, 42kcal)
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Have heart this Christmas and send Croí cards!

Croí, the Heart and Stroke Charity, launched its stunning 2019 Christmas Card Collection this week, available to purchase in local shops and online at www.croi.ie/ChristmasCards. Send a Croí card this Christmas and show real heart, while supporting families affected by heart disease and stroke in your local community.

New this year is an image from Co. Mayo of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy Mountain. Paddy Finn’s photo of a snowy Long Walk is a top favourite, along with Nathan Wynne’s images from the Galway Christmas Market.

Each pack of Croí cards contains 12 new designs this year, including photographs from local, Galway photographers. All cards carry Christmas greetings in both Irish and English. The pack costs just €6.99, with all proceeds supporting the fight against heart disease and stroke.

The 2019 Croí Christmas cards are available to purchase in local shops, including Joyce’s Supermarkets, Evergreen Healthfoods, Headlines Newsagent and Matt O’Flaherty Chemists. See the full list of locations or purchase the cards online at www.croi.ie/ChristmasCards.

Music: Wish Background Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Support Croí this Christmas!

“The loss of conversation has been one of the hardest things…
but sometimes John will say a word and it will make me smile.” – Mary Kelly

Take part in Croí’s Golden Ticket Raffle and help stroke survivors like John find their voice again. Great cash prizes to be won and you can make a huge difference to life after stroke.

It was Christmas eight years ago that everything changed for the Kelly Family. John Kelly, then a 48-year-old Garda Sergeant based in Loughrea, Co. Galway, suffered a massive, life-changing stroke. John was rushed to Galway University Hospital and he spent the next 18 weeks receiving care across three more hospitals. “It was a very exhausting time, and we had Santa come in the middle of that! I tried to make things as normal as possible for the children,” says Mary, John’s wife, speaking of their four children – the eldest twins were 13 years old and the youngest was just 6 years old.

Eventually, John returned home to his family in Cregmore, Co. Galway, but he was faced with the long-term effects of stroke. John suffered severe speech impairments, affecting how he speaks and his ability to understand what is being said. He was left with very few words.

John needed help. But so too did Mary, as a stroke carer.

“A family member read online about Croí’s Stroke Support services and we knew we had to get involved. John started with the Gentle Yoga class, before joining the Stroke Support Group and the Stroke Communication Group,” says Mary.

John now receives specialist support from the Croí Health Team, including biweekly communication sessions with Libby Kinneen, our Speech and Language Therapist. John first met Libby five years ago and he has made real progress in gaining confidence with life after stroke. “More words… friends,” says John. Mary also attends Croí as part of the Stroke Carers Group, “It’s so great to meet like-minded people. For my sanity it was so necessary to talk to other people. Life after stroke is so lonely, you feel isolated… Croí is a place to come and feel relaxed, and where no one will judge you.”

A huge milestone in John’s speech work with Libby was actually being able to say the word ‘Ballybofey’, a really important word for John as it is his wife’s hometown. “It meant something to John and Mary,” says Libby. The ‘Ballybofey’ breakthrough gave John confidence in his speech.

“Croí’s Communication Group has been wonderful for John,” says Mary. “Sometimes John will say a word and it will make me smile. But he might never say it again. The loss of conversation has been one of the hardest things.”

With thanks to generous donors, Croí is able to offer free stroke support services to stroke survivors, their family members and their carers. These services are totally supported by the funds we raise every year, including through the Golden Ticket Raffle!

Will you support our annual raffle and help us continue to support stroke survivors and their families, like the Kellys? Each ticket costs just €5 and there are so many great cash prizes to win, with a total prize fund of €5,000!

Tickets can be purchased here.

Thank you for your support!

John Kelly with his wife, Mary Kelly
John Kelly with his wife, Mary Kelly
The Kelly Family
The Kelly Family