Limerick soldier to complete marathon in uniform and backpack for Pieta House

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan

Men on a mission for Pieta House: Jason Hayes, from Bruff and John Anthony Thomas, Dingle, of Limerick’s 12th Infantry Battalion in the Lebanon

Men on a mission for Pieta House: Jason Hayes, from Bruff and John Anthony Thomas, Dingle, of Limerick’s 12th Infantry Battalion in the Lebanon

TWO SOLDIERS, who are already putting their lives at risk for their country, are now putting their bodies on the line.

Jason Hayes, aged 29, from Sycamore Drive, Bruff, and John Anthony Thomas, 28, from Dingle are currently in South Lebanon on a six month tour of duty with the Irish Army.

They return at the end of May but it will be far from a holiday. On June 9, they will take part in the Dingle Adventure Race for Pieta House. The gruelling 48km course includes cycling over the Conor Pass, climbing Mount Brandon, running and kayaking in Dingle.

And if that wasn’t hard enough they will do it all while wearing their full Irish Defence Forces uniform and a backpack weighing 15kgs or two and half stone.

They set up an everyday hero fundraising page and with still a month to go to the event they have raised nearly €7,000. Every cent will go to Pieta House.

Jason said both their communities, like thousands of others, have been affected by suicide.

“We feel that not enough Is being done for young people in Ireland, men especially who are contemplating suicide or self harm. We both agreed that the work Pieta House is doing for men and women our own age around Ireland is amazing, and very important as most of us have been affected in some way or another by suicide,” said Jason.

The original plan was to do the Great Limerick Run but as they are not back in time they picked Dingle due to John Anthony’s Kerry roots.

The extra burden of wearing their army fatigues and backpack is sure to make it even more tiring.

“We wanted to stand out so we decided to wear our uniforms and carry a backpack with the hope of creating interest around our fundraiser.

“It's not something you see too often and it will test us physically and mentally more so than the other competitors. It will be tough but the feeling at the end of the finishing line will be worth it,” said Jason, whose mum and dad are Breda and Martin Hayes, and he has three siblings - Adam, Shane and Sarah.

The best friends, who have been living together for the last five years, have put a lot of time and effort into the fundraiser. As well as training hard they have been working hard on getting the word out there. Galway star Joe Canning shared their page on Facebook.

“As 90% of Pieta House’s income comes from fundraising events like this one, they rely heavily on the support and encouragement of volunteers and friends. So we wanted to support them by raising as much funds as we possibly can. Pieta House tackle the issues of suicide and self-harm day after day, issues that have touched many families and every community in Ireland. Please help us help them by giving whatever you can,” said Jason.

Log onto to donate.