Sunday 19 January 2020

Mark overwhelmed by response to Dip A Day fundraiser

Emma Gallagher

Mark Elliott, the organiser behind A Dip A Day says he's been blown away by the support the fundraiser for Acquired Brain Injury has received.

With thousands of euro raised, the first and last dip of the month was in Rosses Point.

Mark said: "This event was in aid of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABI) and entailed me getting into the lakes and sea around Sligo, every day in December, no matter the weather in just a pair of shorts and a swim hat!

"Initially I had planned to bring one different person with me every day but the response I received was phenomenal and the group just got bigger as the days and weeks went on. The smallest group we had was on the third day when four people took part. The largest group was on the last day which was December 31st when 55 people got into the water for the first of two dips that day.

"Each day the water temperature, air temperature, time spent in the water and photos and names of those taking part were all uploaded on to Facebook and Instagram for people to follow. We went to five different locations throughout the month and these included Rosses Point, Dorrins Strand, Glencar, the Back Avenue (Lough Gill) and Halfmoon Bay at Hazelwood. The coldest temperature the water was measured at was 5.1 degrees at Glencar on Sunday December 29th and the coldest overall day recorded was Christmas day with the air temperature between 1 and 2 degrees and the water temperature been 5.2 degrees. The longest time spent in the water was December 30th in Hazelwood when some of us spent 25 minutes in the icy water.

"We also made things interesting by going out for certain pivotal times in the month. We were in Rosses Point for the last full moon of the decade on December 12th, this was an absolute exhilarating experience. We were also down at Rosses Point for the sunrise on the shortest day of the year, in the water for 8.53 am. We were down at the lodge in Strandhill on Christmas morning with nearly 40 people turning up to brace the icy conditions. The grand finale took place on New Year's Eve also in Rosses Point when we counted down and rang in the new year with 35 people in the water. This was the second swim of the day with the previous one attracting 55 people.

"The feedback from those taking part has been extremely positive and it has been an exciting part of the participants' lives for the month. For many it was their first time to get a taste of cold water exposure with them claiming to have really enjoyed the experience. Everyone got on so well and a real sense of community had developed among those involved. Some of the participants have had family members who availed of the ABI services in Sligo and were only too happy to offer their support. Many other people have said how much they enjoyed observing the journey and looked forward to the daily updates on social media," Mark said.

"The Acquired Brain Injury Services in Sligo depend heavily upon fundraising to support the work they carry out. Having worked with ABI in the past it resonated deeply with me that all the people and clients I worked with were once like me, leading everyday lives until their injury. Throughout the month I got the chance to speak to family members of brain injury survivors and they explained the effect this has not only on the individual, but on the family as a whole. In many cases when a person survives, it is a very different version of that person whether it be mentally, emotionally or physically.

"All funds raised through this event will go towards the services here in Sligo. "The original target for this was €10,000 and it is looking like we are going to exceed this. People have been so generous and the overall support has been just mind blowing and I cannot thank them enough. Once the final figures are in we will make an official presentation to the ABI services in Sligo.

"I would like to thank all who donated to this event and also Teresa and the team from ABI in Sligo for their support. I also want to thank our photographers/videographers Neil O'Rourke, Tony Henry, Eddie Lee, Mark Minshall and Nicola Casey for capturing the moments every day. Also a special thanks to Laura from the Gallery Café, EJ's menswear, Gino O'Boyle, Gary from Mullane Plant Hire, Scot Reid from Sligo Masters Swim Club and Noel Carter from Strandhill.

"Finally, I would like to thank every single person who took the time to join me in the water each day.

"The support and camaraderie I experienced made the challenge so much more enjoyable and I enjoyed every minute of it.

"A special thanks to Ronan (Uisce) Watters who managed to join me for every one of the 31 days. "The overall support has been surreal and I look forward to doing it all again," Mark added.

Sligo Champion