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CannonBawz Run will remember Liam O'Neill this weekend

By Alistair Whitfield

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AN ANNUAL car rally will set off from Elgin on Saturday morning without its inspiration and greatest supporter.

Liam looked up to his big brother.
Liam looked up to his big brother.

Liam O'Neill, who died earlier this month, was born with a rare medical condition called Marfan Syndrome.

However, the 38-year-old never let it stop him living life to the full.

The CannonBawz Run was begun eight years ago by Liam's older brother Kris.

Liam (left) with his brother Kris beside his Porsche.
Liam (left) with his brother Kris beside his Porsche.

The two-day rally has since raised over £25,000 to finance research into Marfan as well as to support other good causes.

Kris says it's going to be incredibly difficult to set off without his 'co-pilot'.

He added: "Liam was such an inspirational person.

In memory of Liam.
In memory of Liam.

"So many people have said so many nice things about him in the last few days, about how much he brightened up everybody's lives.

"Liam had an infectious smile and he made time to talk to everyone.

"He embraced life with both hands."

Liam loved karate.
Liam loved karate.

Marfan Syndrome affects the connective tissue around the body, and can damage organs including the eyes, heart, skeleton, lungs and blood vessels.

Liam was diagnosed with the condition at birth.

This led to him, at the age of 10, having to undergo the first of several operations on his heart.

Brothers in arms and shades.
Brothers in arms and shades.

However, his medical issues never held him back from experiencing whatever life had to offer.

Kris, who's an air ambulance paramedic, says: "Liam was advised against anything that involved physical contact but he took up karate and used it to teach kids.

"He was only three belts away from his black belt.

"Liam was a larger than life character.

"He just wasn't the sort of person you could wrap up in cotton wool."

Complications arose after Liam underwent surgery on April 14.

Kris says his younger brother was later transferred to an intensive care unit and remained there for 90 days afterwards, fighting all the way.

A celebration of Liam's life was held at Meadowhillock Crematorium in Burghead on Friday, August 13.

As he was a huge fan of Star Wars, the film's theme music was played during the ceremony.

Kris, who's a musician, also sang 'My Hero', a song by the band The Foo Fighters.

It's a song that Kris has sung live several times before, and has always dedicated to Liam.

Permission has been given by Moray Council to block off a section of Elgin High Street for CannonBawz Run 7.

As in previous years, there will be some impressive vehicles taking part.

They will congregate on the Plainstones at 9.30am to give people the chance to have a look.

The rally is scheduled to set off at 11am to drive the North Coast 500, stopping off overnight in Ullapool.

This year, as well as the Marfan Trust, the rally will be raising funds for Race Against Dementia, the charity set up Formula One legend Sir Jackie Stewart.

Donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/marfantrust

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