The 25th edition of the Galway Cycle, run by Maynooth Students for Charity, has smashed all records for participants and money raised.
A total of 215 cyclists made the trip to and from Maynooth to Galway in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland, and, a record breaking €122,000 has been raised which will be used to roll out an early development program across the country which has already been piloted successfully in Kildare.
The president of the Galway Cycle, Donnacha Gayer, a Ph.D researcher at NUI Maynooth was overwhelmed at the result. “This is the best moment of my life,” he told the Leinster Leader when he heard.
“I have no words to say how happy I am. We knew the money was looking good, but we never guessed it would go this high.”
And he stressed that the figure of €122,000, which represents an increase of almost €40,000 over all previous records, is merely a ‘so far’ figure.
“You always get a good bit rolling in afterwards,” he explained. “And people can still make donations if they wish. It’s an incredible cause.”
Every year since 1987, a group of students have left NUI Maynooth and made the trip across country from the college to Galway’s Eyre Square on the Friday of the last weekend in March.
They rattle buckets, juggle, sing songs and generally brighten up the city centre all day Saturday, before climbing on their bikes again on Sunday for the return trip.
It’s a 400 km round trip and participants have been in training since before Christmas.
But with an almost professional organisation, a 1.5 kilometre long convoy and constant Garda and paramedic support it’s a far cry from 1987 when 12 cyclists, members of the Young Christian Society made their way across the country to raise funds for the ISPCC.
Since then more than €850,000 has been raised for a variety of worthy causes, some of them Galway-based, such as Headstrong’s Jigsaw Project and the National Breast Council Research Institute, based in UCG.
One cyclist, Martin Rocks, has completed all 25 cycles, while NUI Maynooth’s President Prof. Philip Nolan was taking part for the very first time.
Both told the Leinster Leader they were “honoured, proud and delighted to take part”. And to celebrate the 25th anniversary, there was a party in the square in Maynooth to welcome the cyclists back on Sunday, March 25. Kildare Mayor Spike Nolan was on hand to welcome them and congratulate them on their efforts.
“We’re very, very grateful to everyone who supported us in any way, big or small,” Mr. Gayer said.
“We’re especially grateful to our friends in Brady’s Bar, Maynooth and to Applegreen who provided us with thousands of cereal bars, bottles of water and sports drinks, as well as more than a dozen cyclists.”
For more information see www.galwaycycle.ie or www.downsyndrome.ie