Irish Open 2015: Rory McIlroy to wear new Nike trainers designed by Cancer Fund children
Golfers' gear is notoriously colourful. And Rory McIlroy will step out in extra-loud style later this week at the Irish Open.
For each day he will be wearing a pair of new Nike trainers that have been specially designed by four Northern Ireland youngsters whose families have been affected by cancer.
The colourful golf shoes will be worn at Royal County Down from Thursday to Sunday.
The designers - Sara Lockhart (12) from Newtownards, Ryan Keenan (17) from Belfast, Chloe Hyndman (15) from Antrim and Alex Kernaghan (13) from Ballinamallard - will be invited to join the world number one at the 18th hole to have their photographs taken.
The shoes were created as the result of a competition run by the Cancer Fund for Children at its Daisy Lodge centre, which has been supported with £1m from the sportsman's own charity, the Rory Foundation.
The winners designed the golf shoes at a recent residential in the charity's Narnia log cabin in Newcastle.
The four were chosen by Rory himself.
The shoes have been made by his sponsors Nike and they'll be worn throughout the tournament, which is being hosted by the Rory Foundation.
As well as getting free tickets to the event, the winners will also be presented by Nike and the Rory Foundation with their very own pair of trainers.
Rory said: "I'm delighted the young people associated with the Cancer Fund for Children got to design my shoes.
"It really was such a tough decision to pick the four winning designs.
"I'm really pleased with the effort and attention to detail everyone put in.
"I can't wait to wear the different designs at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Newcastle.
"It's going to be a very special event for golf and my foundation." Alex, whose father Gary has died since her family found out she had won the competition, said that her shoe design had been inspired by her dad's two favourite colours.
"My shoe design is all about individuality.
"It says 'Be You' on my Nike shoes because that's all you ever should be - yourself.
"I also added in a bit of blue as it's my dad's favourite colour."
Chloe, who has been supported by the Cancer Fund for Children since she was 12, said: "My design is a combination of what I would wear and what I thought Rory would like.
"It was great fun designing them and a privilege to be a part of the whole process, but I never thought I would win. I'm delighted!"
Ryan said his green and white design for his winning entry was "inspired by the Irish Open".
"Designing the Nike shoes was great fun and I really enjoyed the chance to relax and meet new people at the residential," he explained.
Sara did some research for her design. She said: "I read online that Rory really likes different shades of green so I combined that with my favourite colours."
"When I told the children they were going to be designing shoes for a golfing superstar their faces just lit up. Words cannot describe what it meant to them and how excited they were - it was great to see and a fantastic thing to be involved with."
Marty Pelan, residential specialist for the NI Cancer Fund for Children, which facilitated the shoe design session
The awesome foursome
Alex Kernaghan: The 13-year-old from Ballinamallard lost her father Gary (44) just last month to cancer. Her siblings are Nikki (12) and George (8).
“I know that Daddy will be with me at the 18th hole with Rory as he was a big golf fan and loved to watch him.”
Mum Tracey Kernaghan added: “Gary was so proud to hear that Alex had won the competition as it came at one of our darkest periods before he died. We were so helped and supported by all at Daisy Lodge.”
Ryan Keenan: The 17-year-old apprentice welder from Belfast was just 10 when his mother Michelle got cancer for the first time.
“I was the youngest but we all handled my mother’s illness in different ways at different times.”
Michelle added: “I’ve just gone through surgery for cancer for the third time.”
Sara Lockhart: An only child to a single parent dealing with cancer, the last three years for Sara (12) have been challenging.
“We found the diagnosis and treatment of my breast cancer very insidious because it turned out to be worse than first suspected,” said her mother Diane.
“But I’m glad to say that I’m feeling great at the moment.”
Chloe Hyndman: “I was 11 when my mum Karen was diagnosed with cancer,” said Chloe, a Sperrin Integrated College student aged 15.
“It was a really difficult time and I didn’t really understand what was going on. I went away on residentials where I was able to meet new people who knew what I was going through.
“I really don’t know what I would have done without the Cancer Fund for Children. The residentials have made me realise I am not alone and that I will be all right in the end.”