The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation and Maynooth Students for Charity were joined by the winner of RTE’s The Voice of Ireland, Pat Byrne, in officially launching the 2013 Galway Cycle.
The iconic charity fundraising cycle is now in its 26th year and has, in that time, raised almost €900,000 for a variety of good causes. The Galway Cycle involves more than 200 students - past and present - of NUI Maynooth cycling from the college to Galway and back over the course of a weekend – a round trip of 400kms.
The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation was founded by Jonathan Irwin and Kildare’s Senator Mary Ann O’Brien based on their own experience caring for their son Jack at home until he passed away on 13th December 1997.
Mr. Irwin noted that “there is a real sense of community helping community with the Galway Cycle and that’s what we wanted when we set up Jack & Jill 15 years ago in my son Jack Irwin’s name - whose anniversary was last Thursday, December 13.
“On Jack’s behalf and on behalf of all the families we support today, I want to a thank you to everyone involved.
“We are so proud and honoured to be the recipient charity for this great annual event and every cent raised will fund vital home nursing hours for sick children in every community in Ireland.”
Galway Cycle 2013 will take place on March 22, 23 and 24 next year. The cyclists will leave Maynooth very early on Friday, March 22, and arrive into Eyre Square that evening just after 5pm.
They will spend Saturday rattling buckets, dancing, dressing up, face painting, busking and generally doing anything that will raise a few euros for the cause, before mounting their bikes again in Eyre Square on Sunday morning for the return trip.
Johnstown-based Jack & Jill Foundation provides home nursing care and support for children with severe neurological development issues, as well as offering some respite to the parents and families of these children.
Jack & Jill also provides direct funding to families, enabling them to buy home respite care to give them a break.
The charity has supported 1,600 families since 1997 including 86 families in Kildare, 96 in Galway and 387 in Dublin.
President of NUI Maynooth Philip Nolan, a keen cyclist himself who will be taking part in his second Galway Cycle, praised the organisers of the event. “It’s amazing how an organisation like this, run entirely by volunteers has sustained itself for 26 years and grown so much over that time.
“It is a testament to the hard work of what is now a generation of students.”
Emma Kilgannon, President of Maynooth Students for Charity said they were enjoying working with Jack & Jill and was hopeful that last year’s figure of €150,000, raised for Down Syndrome Ireland would be matched this year.
“Even when times have been tough the people of Maynooth and Galway have always supported us,” she added.
- Conor McHugh