Sporting heroes out in force for Special Olympics fundraiser
SOME of Ireland's most famous sport stars have rallied behind Special Olympics Ireland for the biggest fundraiser in 2014 – their annual collection day.
An army of 3,000 volunteers stationed themselves in cities, towns and villages right around the country yesterday in support of the Special Olympics National Games – which will take place in Limerick this June – and the athletes.
Well-known GAA personalities Colm 'The Gooch' Cooper, Mickey Harte, Dublin legend Brian Mullins and Anthony Daly were joined by Sean O'Brien, Reggie Corrigan and Alan Quinlan from the world of rugby and Offaly golfer Shane Lowry to launch the event in Dublin.
Dublin hurling boss, Anthony Daly, was delighted to lend his support, with the charity aiming to raise around €500,000 from the fundraiser.
"When the World Games came here it blew us all away. I'm thrilled to be able to give a hand. Eircom's sponsorship for 29 years is also fantastic," he said.
Colm Cooper has experienced the positive benefits that sport can bring to those with intellectual disabilities in his own county and called on those who could give, to give generously.
"I've been involved for years in Kerry with the Special Olympics and I know the work that goes on and the joy that everybody gets from it," he said. "We're hoping that people will get in behind it and support them."
The enormity of the fundraising target was not lost on former Irish Open winner Shane Lowry: "This is the biggest day for the Special Olympics each year – it's great to get good weather for it and people are going to be out on the streets so we should dig deep," he said.
Meanwhile, Sean O'Brien may have been dubbed 'the most important player in Irish rugby', but he has found his own inspiration in his cousin – a Special Olympics athlete.
The Ireland and Leinster flanker, who is back training after an operation on his shoulder, is a major advocate of the sports charity – which he credits with helping to change the life of his cousin, Richard Costello (25) from Carlow.
Richard is one of the 9,300 athletes registered with Special Olympics Ireland and has been training with them for over nine years. He is an athletics and bowling sportsman with two clubs – Delta Centre and Carlow Special Olympics.
If you missed a bucket yesterday you can still help by texting the word SPECIAL to 50300 to donate €2. 100pc of donations will go to Special Olympics Ireland.
Donations can also be made online at www.specialolympics.ie