Dublin dad taking part in Ireland’s toughest cycle race to raise funds for son’s special needs school

Adriaan and his son Ben (15)

thumbnail: Adriaan and his son Ben (15)
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Tony McCullagh

A Dublin father is taking part in Ireland’s toughest cycle race this week to raise funds for his teenage son’s special needs school.

Adriaan Pretorius, from Blanchardstown, decided to enter this year’s Rás Tailteann in honour of his eldest son Ben (15), who lives with a rare gene mutation known as STXBP1. The condition, which was diagnosed when he was aged seven, causes severe developmental and physical delay, as well as epilepsy.

The gruelling race, which started from Tallaght Stadium today, will see cyclists from 36 Irish and international teams cover a distance of 755km over the next five days. The Rás route will pass through a number of counties, including Westmeath, Kerry, Limerick and Clare, before finishing in Blackrock, Dundalk, on Sunday, June 19.

Mr Pretorius, a keen cyclist, is aiming to raise €10 for every kilometre he travels over the five stages and hopes to donate €7,550 to the Development Education Centre at the Daughters of Charity on the Navan Road, where his son attends.

“The school does fantastic work with very limited resources, but the classrooms are quite bare and could do with an upgrade,” he said. “They also require additional equipment, such as interactive whiteboards which serve as teaching aids and improve the sensory experience of the students.

“Any equipment to do with special needs tends to be very expensive. They shouldn’t have to fight for funding for these things just because they are a special needs school.”

The father of three, who is originally from South Africa, said Ben is non-verbal and confined to a wheelchair.

“Myself and my wife look after all of his needs, such as changing him and feeding him,” he said.

Mr Pretorius, a Luas depot manager in Sandyford, is participating in Ireland’s number one elite cycling event as a guest rider with St Tiernan’s after his own club in Lucan was unable to enter a team of five.

Donations can be made to the fundraising page on  https://gofund.me/da4ca492