"I knew I had to do something" says Harrington's $80k charity sponsor

Padraig Harrington’s Masters charge helped raise over $200,000 for a paralysed relative.

And one of his charity backers, Michael Clune, couldn’t believe how much goodwill his gesture generated or the extent of the exposure he received.

Triple major winner Harrington, 40, auctioned off the branding space on his cap and clothing for three US tournaments in March and April, including Augusta.

Thanks to the Padraig Harrington Charitable Foundation, Gerard Byrne (a cousin of his wife Caroline) now has extra cash to help him move on with his life.

Dad of three Gerard said: “I am very grateful to Padraig, his sponsors and IdentityX, Clune Construction and Blarney.com for each playing their part in helping us at this difficult time. It has been a very tough few months since my accident but this support has given my family a real boost and will be invaluable as we adjust to our new situation.”

Michael Clune of Clune ConstructionClune Construction’s Michael Clune told ChicagoBusiness.com that he read the news of Harrington’s initiative on his iPad and made efforts to get in touch with Harrington.

“I knew I had to do something,” says Mr. Clune, a native of Ireland and a golf lover. He asked his brother in Ireland to help him reach Mr. Harrington.

“I offered $80,000. I know it wasn’t the highest bid, but we connected” on the phone, says Mr. Clune, known in Chicago’s business community for his charm and work ethic…

“I’ve been lucky in my life, and this was an opportunity to help an Irishman and an athlete I admire,” Mr. Clune says. “And you can’t believe the phone calls. I got so many,” he says. Friends and associates from all over the world wanted to know if that was his “Clune” on Mr. Harrington’s shirt.

“I can’t believe how many people actually watch the Masters on TV,” he says.

Harrington was pleased to be able to do something to help and thanked his temporary backers for their support.

“Together they helped us raise over $200,000 which will go some way towards helping Gerard and his family adapt to their unfortunate changed circumstances,” Harrington said in a statement. “I am very thankful to everyone involved for making this possible.”

Harrington finished eighth in the Masters despite failing to hole a string of birdie putts in a final round 72.

Due to his son’s first communion, he doesn’t play again until the Players Championship at Sawgrass in three weeks.

But after missing the cut in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head last week he was hard at work at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club yesterday with his coach Pete Cowen.