A GROUP of local cyclists are preparing to pedal their hearts out in April to raise funds to send a group of children with special needs to Lourdes.
Two years ago, Michael ‘Doll’ Real and Niall O’Sullivan from Hospital went to France with a group of cyclists to take part in a 600 mile cycle to raise funds for the good cause.
At the time, their cycling efforts raised enough money to send 409 children with special needs to Lourdes.
Next April, they will repeat this cycle once again for children with special needs.
To help raise funds for the charity endeavour, a fundraising night was held in Sully’s Bar, Hospital last Friday night.
“You have to raise €2,500 for the children and you pay your own way out yourself so all the funds go to the children,” said Michael of the cycle.
“About 105 of us did it two years ago. They would be from Limerick, Galway, and Tipperary. Seven of us went from around here.
We went out to France to do the cycle and on the last day when we landed in Lourdes, a lot of the children were there,” he added.
The fundraising cycle is done in conjunction with The Irish Pilgrimage Trust which is a registered charity based in Galway.
For over 40 years the Trust has been travelling on pilgrimage and on holiday to Lourdes with young people with special needs, from all over Ireland.
“We sent out 409 children the last time with special needs which was a massive number - it was a great achievement,” said Michael.
“One of the children who has gone out to Lourdes is from the Knocklong area. The children will start going out again in the New Year. They stay out there for seven to 10 days. The children go out at different times, they are from all over Ireland.”
Michael expressed his thanks to all the people who supported Friday night’s fundraiser including the bands Handipak, Nightfall, Tom Slattery with Ember, For One Only, and Reverse the Hearse.
“We want to thank everyone for their support and all those, including local businesses, who gave great prizes including hampers.”
During their fun-filled week together in Lourdes, the children play games, attend large Masses full of music and colour, enjoy the candlelight procession, and visit the famous grotto. Next year’s cycle marks the 30th anniversary of the charity’s first cycle to Lourdes.