“LIVES will be saved”, according to a member of the Abbeyfeale and District Search and Rescue (ADSAR), after the Crocodile Race Fundraiser in Adare reaped more than €20,000 in donations.
ADSAR’s equipment officer Christy Kelleher said that the “unbelievable” money raised by the novel race, which took place Sunday evening, will help them to continue “saving many lives”.
Race organiser Neily Hogan said that he was “very happy” with the event, which was in memory of his late wife Noreen Hogan, who passed away earlier this year.
The event, in aid of Pieta House and ADSAR, saw four members of the search and rescue team and two Rathkeale Fire Brigade men race up the River Maigue on crocodiles - inflatable ones.
Clad with swimsuits, life jackets and helmets, the six participants slid into the river via the slippery bank and began the 10 minute race at the sound of an air horn.
And though it is arguable that the hundreds of spectators were as wet as the swimmers, with the torrential rainfall, there were enthusiastic cheers from the crowd as they paddled up the river.
Not everyone was able to stay on board however, as some fell off the flotation devices halfway through the race. But the swimmers from ADSAR came to the rescue and put their race rivals back on track in order to cross the finish line.
“It was all for charity and a bit of fun,” said the winner Declan Kelleher, adding that the event should be held every year.
Mr Hogan, who ran the show with family and friends from all over Limerick, said that Noreen would have “loved” the race on Sunday. He said that she was a “brilliant person”, who “never said no” when helping organisations and local groups with charity work.
“We said we would run something, and we were trying to come up with something different and novel and light-hearted and something not really serious,” he said.
The Rathkeale man, who began gathering donations just five weeks ago, said that when he thought of using inflatable crocodiles in the river race, he immediately ordered 10 on eBay and tested them on the water the following week.
He added that he was delighted to have ADSAR and Rathkeale Fire Brigade volunteer for the event, which was hugely commended by local councillors who watched from the river banks.
“It’s a testament to their [the family] character; they wanted to give back to the community and they wanted to give to these organisations and use this as a medium to contribute and to garner support and funds and everything for these charities. That has to be commended in a big way,” said Cllr Tom Neville, who described the event as “innovative”.
Stephen Keary commended the efforts of the Hogan family, adding that it was for a “fantastic cause”.
ADSAR’s Christy Kelleher, uncle of the winner, said that the organisation has never been engaged in a charity event of this “magnitude” before.
He said that each search can cost between €2,000 and €3,000.
Mr Hogan said he is already looking into organising another crocodile race for next year.