'I'm eager for the big day to arrive'

A volunteer for Barretstown, who look after children with serious illnesses, Aisling Barrett wants to raise funds to help the camp stay open for longer

MY name is Aisling Barrett and I'm a 24-year-old media graduate from Limerick. I have lived in Lucan, Dublin, for the past year-and-a-half. I have been challenging myself to complete my Gold Gaisce (the President's Award), and this has led me to partnering up with Barretstown and training to jog the Flora Women's Mini Marathon in June.

Barretstown was founded 20 years ago by Hollywood actor Paul Newman, and was modelled on his renowned Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut. It feels like a really good idea to take part in the celebration of that anniversary.

I am working as a volunteer at a Barretstown camp this spring, and I can't wait. Barretstown provides therapeutic recreation or, what they call "serious fun" for children affected by cancer and other serious illnesses.

They aim to rebuild the lives of these children and their families. I had a very good childhood, so it seems very appropriate to be helping others to experience that too, in a small way.

The place is like a Wonder- land, and that is before you add beautiful, brave, yet happy children. It has been described as magical, and I can feel that from my time volunteering there.

For me, to run the mini marathon for Barretstown was an easy choice.

I would love to say my training is going fabulously, but that would be a lie. I have been running on and off without a major plan since December.

However, since signing up with Barretstown and deciding to do the Flora Women's Mini Marathon, I have taken a much more organised approach to training.


I run with my boyfriend – who acts as my motivator – at least three times a week. I am currently at 3k in about 25 minutes, so I'm pretty confident I can make the 10k without my legs falling off. I also have a blog I update with all my after-run reports to help keep me motivated.

For the fundraising part of the challenge, I have set up a fundraising page at www.mycharity.ie/event/aislings runforbarretstown. I have set my target high (at €1,000) as I feel if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

I do plan to hold some events too. I love the idea of helping to raise funds to keep the camp open for more of the year, which is something that events like the Flora Women's Mini Marathon can achieve.

I am eager for the big day to come around. I have a lot to prove to myself and to all the people who sponsor me.

I will be so excited to cross the finishing line. I will be at that starting line come June 2 and I think I will celebrate finishing by falling into my bed and sleeping for a week.

For information on Barretstown, see www.facebook.com/ Barretstown or @Barretstown