MARTIN Kiely who rallied communities across the county to take part in the Walk of Life campaign which raised almost €80,000 for Milford Hospice has been named the Limerick Person of the Month.
The GAA commentator came up with the brainwave to organise fundraising walks in communities across Limerick as he was driving home from a training session with the footballers of Corofin.
“I got the idea almost a year ago. I was always kind of doing something for clubs so I said I wouldn’t mind doing something for one of our own. I thought Milford Hospice was the ideal vehicle to do something. The biggest challenge was to get people to believe in the concept of what we were trying to do,” explained Martin who pens the Sideline View GAA column for LeaderSport.
While he said it took him a while to decide on exactly what he could do for Milford Hospice, after much brain searching he made up his mind to organise a number of short walks that everyone could take part in.
The Walk of Life campaign saw hundreds of people don their walking boots and wet gear on Saturday, October 19, at five different locations around Limerick including Newcastle West, Curragh Chase, Kilfinane, Glenstal Abbey, and the University of Limerick along with Sixmilebridge in Clare.
According to Martin, the success of the project is down to the drive and dedication of a number of key people in each location who motivated and inspired people in their local community to take part in, or support, the event.
“I’m delighted and happy to get the award but I’m accepting it on behalf of the people who supported me and the work that they did, but also on behalf of the general punter who contributed towards it. A good number of people came on board.
“The biggest problem most people have is the fear of failure, so if you can remove the fear of failure then great things are possible and that’s in all walks of life,” continued the Caherline native who now resides in Kildimo.
“The key thing we wanted to do all the time was to get a small amount of money from people but have a lot of people,” he added.
While he admits he had “many sleepless nights” in the run up to the event, he knew the vibes were good and as October 19 drew closer, more and more people signed up.
On the day itself, people from all over the country made the journey to Limerick and Sixmilebrige to take part in the 5km walks.
“As late as this morning I got a call from Mayo wanting to know if I would go up and call to them because they want to do some serious fundraising,” said Martin at the award presentation this Monday.
The feedback from Milford Hospice, he said, “has been great”.
“Their forte is looking after the very ill. On a number of occasions during the project, I went to Milford just to walk around and see what they were doing because it keeps on refocusing you. You need a bit of focus. Everybody went off the wall with the Celtic Tiger and, as difficult as it is now, I don’t think, as a society, that we know exactly what other people are going through. You don’t know it until people are actually sick.”
The people of Limerick, and the Mid West in general he said have never been found wanting when it comes to Milford Hospice.
“They know only too well the work that they do for the sick both in the hospice but more so in the home where they allow people enjoy the comfort of their own surroundings. Over the past number of months many parishes in Limerick have come on board to help the Walk of Life.
“Limerick is so fortunate to have the services of such a facility as Milford Hospice. It provides a place for very sick people and their families at the lowest points of their lives. It provides dignity to the dying and comfort to their families.”
The Limerick Person of the Month award is sponsored by the Limerick Leader, media agency Southern, and the Clarion Hotel.