THE GALTEE Challenge started in Limerick prison in 2009 but now everybody can break out the walking boots.
Former warden, Tom Hayes, came up with the idea to climb the Galtees and numbers have climbed every year.
“In 2009, 50 took part, then 160 and last year we had over 200. We’re hoping for even bigger and better numbers this year.
“Up to now we have raised over €50,000 for the Limerick branch of MS Ireland. All the money stays locally,” said Mr Hayes, who is from Doon.
This year’s event takes place on Saturday, June 2 at 10.30am and all ages are welcome to attend.
“We all meet at the car par on the road to Mitchelstown. We start walking at 11am and people are back at 2pm. We’ve had six to seventy year-olds taking part.
“It’s a real family day and mums and dads come with their children. It’s a fixture in the calendar now and they look forward to it.
“It’s not a very strenuous walk, we take breaks all along and have chats so it’s a social occasion as well,” said Mr Hayes.
Afterwards they head to Moore’s pub in Doon for a barbecue and hand out the raffle prizes.
“A lot of the participants are from East Limerick so we try to keep the group together,” said Mr Hayes.
Sponsorship cards are available from Tara House, near the Crescent Shopping Centre, or contact Mr Hayes on 086-8365930. “You can also just turn up on the day and donate to the cause. The money will help pay for physio classes in Tara House, fuel grants for patients and homecare as well in the Mid-West area,” said Mr Hayes.
There are around 200 members of the Limerick branch of Multiple Sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
It has many symptoms including limb weakness and difficulties with co-ordination and balance; muscle spasms; fatigue and numbness.
“It’s the one thing about MS - you need to keep active and if possible keep getting exercise so a walk is perfect,” said Mr Hayes.
Physio is also hugely important and this is given by Limerick hurling captain, David Breen. Another Limerick GAA great, Andrew O’Shaughnessy did the walk last year and is going to take part again on June 2.
While current and former Munster stars, Damien Varley and Jerry Flannery, are also big supporters. Damien’s mother, Mary, is chairperson of the Limerick MS branch,
Every year so far the sun has shone on the day of the walk and Mr Hayes hopes for another sunny day on June 2.