THIS Thursday three brothers from Rush will start a challenge that they have faced for the past few years, one that will see them cross nine states, three time zones and 2,448 miles - the famous Route 66 across America.
For Stephen, Dermot and Petesie Coffey the challenge is a fund-raising one, and one that they has seen them raise more than €175,000 for Temple Street Children's Hospital. Along with the brothers they will be joined by their great friend Brendan Duffy, and Stephen's daughter Jess will ride pillion on her dad's bike. Make no mistake about this trip, it is not an easy one. Route 66 is a challenge that has raised just shy of €3 million in 10 years and covered 1.2 million miles, and while it goes through some of the most scenic parts of America, the crew will have little time to enjoy their surroundings. The itinerary starts on Thursday in Chicago, Illinois. On Day two it's Springfield, Illinois. Day three - Saturday - takes them to Rolla Missouri and Day four to Tulsa, Oklahoma. On day five - next Monday - they roll into Amarillo, Texas, and on Day six it's Albuquerque, New Mexico. On Day seven - Wednesday 26th September - the stop is Gallup, New Mexico. Days eight and nine take the trio on to Flagstaff in Arizona, on Saturday 29th it's on to Laughlin, Nevada, and on Day 11 the stop is Victorville, California. The final two days, which are the first two days of October the adventure takes the men to Santa Monica, California, and this is where the crew are escorted by the state police with sirens blaring to the finish, where the crew will be met by friends and family after their hard slog. While the itinerary sounds like words straight from a Glen Campbell song, the hard work will have bore fruit. The fund-raising that is done through the long winter months for the Hospital, has been worth it. 'Our hard work and dedication has meant vital funds have been raised to aid the provision of specialist equipment and refurbishment of individual units within the hospital - the Renal Unit, the Intensive Care Unit, CT Scanner, a New Cystic Fibrosis Unit. 'This goes to show you don't have to be a doctor to save a life,' said Stephen Coffey.
Stephen goes on to say: 'Amazing memories are made and life-long friendships begin on this breathtaking trip. We will leave Dublin on September 20th as a group with a few strangers and come home as an extended family. The emotion and intensity of the trip bonds you and your fellow 66'ers together in a very special way. 'Temple Street Children's Hospital has a special place in our hearts as a family. On numerous occasions it has been our saving grace, nursing our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and even grandchildren back to health. 'We feel very honoured to be able to give back to this very special place. We would like to sincerely thank each and every person who gave as little or as large as they could toward our fundraising for the wonderful Temple Street Children's Hospital and the amazing journey of Route 66. Your support has been immense, inspiring and truly appreciated.' 'We've done everything from holding auctions and raffles, to singing Jingle Bells what felt like 40 times on freezing cold Saturdays in December, and some of us have even 'done' a Full Monty on stage in front of hundreds of our neighbours, friends and family in a bid to raise the funds to take part in Route 66. 'Taking part in these trips has been life-changing for each of us. Yeah, I know - such a cliché. It's full of adventure and adrenaline and ever-changing from the weather, where you're soaked to the very bone one minute to scorching heat the next. 'You could be travelling through the desert in blinding sun and not see another sinner on the road for hours, except for your group of course, to moments later be negotiating your way through the traffic in a busy town or city. 'It's overwhelming at times to be travelling through the states and witness the fabulous scenery and people you encounter along the way.' We wish the crew all the best on their journey, and there is still time to donate if you so wish. Temple Street Hospital can be contacted at 01-8784344.