Open road beckons charity cyclists in Limerick

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

A THREE county challenge consisting of a cycle, walk and run is being organised by a group of staff and friends of St Joseph’s Foundation with all proceeds going towards vital services for adults and children with disabilities.

A THREE county challenge consisting of a cycle, walk and run is being organised by a group of staff and friends of St Joseph’s Foundation with all proceeds going towards vital services for adults and children with disabilities.

The event which takes place on Sunday, September 2 has been organised in response to significant cuts to budgets in the past number of years and also to increase morale amongst staff, service users and their families while promoting healthy living through exercise.

“This is our very first year to organise an event which we hope will become an annual event,” said Conor Counihan, chief executive of St Joseph’s Foundation based in Charleville.

St Joseph’s Foundation provides a variety of services to children with an intellectual disability living within the catchment area.

The 90km cycle takes place from St Joseph’s Foundation, Baker’s Road, Charleville and takes in Kilmallock, Emly, Tipperary Town, Garryspillane and Kilmallock again before returning to Baker’s Road. Entry fee is €25 and OAPs and those under 16 can take part free of charge.

Refreshments will be provided at St Joseph’s Foundation, Charleville and at the Moore Haven Centre in Tipperary Town.

There will also be a 10K walk/run on the same day in the Charleville town area.

Both events will commence at 12 noon from St Joseph’s Foundation. Entry fee for the walk/run is €10 and OAPs and those under 16 can take part free of charge.

“It is for a great cause,” said Mary Hayes, job coach with St Joseph’s Foundation.

“Earlier this year we had to close one of our children’s respite houses, Cooleens House. That is the first time that we have ever had to do that in the history of St Joseph’s Foundation because of a lack of funding. That kind of shocked us and we thought we are going to have to do something. We do fundraising anyway but not to this scale,” Ms Hayes added.

Cooleens is a purpose- built house in Charleville for the provision of respite care. It was open seven nights a week. Due to a lack of funding is now only opens occasionally at the weekends.

“They can sometimes staff it on a weekend basis to take in children on a temporary basis but it was open for children with autism all the time. Unfortunately, due to financing, it couldn’t stay open,” Ms Hayes explained.

Monies raised from the event will be used to provide emergency funding and also for the upkeep of respite care - a highly valued aspect of care provided by the St Joseph’s Foundation for families and service users. “It’s a seven day a week, 24 hour a day service really so we need money. It’s vital for families because families need a break. With some of the families we might have two of their children in our service. They find it very difficult. Everybody needs a break. Children need a break from home, parents need a break. You can only give the best service when you feel good yourself,” said Ms Hayes.

Anyone interested in taking part can register on line at www.stjosephsfoundation.ie, they can ring St Joseph’s Foundation on 063 89252 and also register on the day in St Joseph’s Foundation between 11am and 11.45am. A raffle will also take place on Saturday, September 8 at 9pm in the Corbett Court restaurant, Ballyhea, Charleville featuring a number of prizes.

Charleville and District Association for the Handicapped was formed in 1968. It was apparent in the area that many children with learning disabilities were not attending school. A committee was formed to respond to this need and a day school service was established in Charleville in April 1969. St Joseph’s Sheltered Workshop was established in July 1973.