In 2019 the Hope and Dream 10 charity run celebrated a record year, raising more money than ever before and passing the €1 million mark after eight years in existence.
But now all roads lead towards 2020 and an event which organisers hope will surpass the historic achievements of the 2019 event. Officially launched at the Credit Union buildings in Enniscorthy last Thursday evening the Hope and Dream 2020 is now open for registrations, and race-organiser Michael Jordan said its success was down to the continued generosity and support of its countless volunteers, sponsors and participants.
'It's been a huge success in every way, in terms of funding for the two charities and for the town of Enniscorthy. I'm sure it will go as well this year because this room is full of good people.
When it comes to the organising, when the people here tell you, "it's all right that'll be done", you know it will be. It's a privilege to be a part of this.'
The two charities in question are the Hope Cancer Support Centre (HCSC) and Wexford Hospice Homecare (WHH). And John Roche, Chairman of the HCSC, outlined the importance of the annual event.
'There's two figures I want to mention; the €480,000 it costs to keep the Hope Centre open every year, and the €80,000 we get from the Government to run it. That's a deficit of €400k. And unfortunately demand is growing, the number of clients coming in looking for help and assistance is growing,' said Mr Roche.
'The amount of money wasted in this country is diabolical but I can assure the people of Wexford that all the money here is accounted for and will go back into the charities,' he added.
These sentiments were echoed by Gary Morris, Chairman of Wexford Hospice Homecare, who, having only taken up the role two months ago, said he was honoured to be partnered with HCSC.
'The two organisations match really well. It costs €700,000 to run the WHH, we get €200,000 from the government. Our service consists of seven nurses split into two teams. They do 300 home visits per month, 7 days a week.
'I've seen first hand the difference the service makes for families. We're privileged this year to be joint beneficiaries of Hope and Dream and we're hoping to broaden its appeal and bring more people in from the south of the county,' Gary said.
While Hope and Dream 10 continues to play a pivotal role in the existence of these two charities, it relies upon its own sponsors and supporters year in, year out. And Michael was keen to pay tribute to all those who ensured the event ran smoothly every April.
'It costs a lot of money to run Hope and Dream, and we're so lucky to have sponsors who support us. It costs €27,000 to run and without that starting point we'd be on the hind leg all the time. We had 2,440 registered entrants last year and raised €180,190 which brought the total to €1,154,224. And knowing the auditing work done by Eugene Doyle and his staff if there was a cent more or less than that it would have shown,' he said.
Manager of Enniscorthy Credit Union Liz Cullen then took to the stage to note the similarities between Hope and Dream 10 and the business she manages.
'We exist to support our members and we like our staff to support our community, because we see the community needs as our needs. Hope and Dream 10 is perfect for us because as a community we are stronger when we are together.'
As one of the main sponsors of the race, People Newspapers have covered the Hope and Dream 10 extensively over the years, and Deputy Editor of People Newspapers, Darragh Clifford, said the event provided some much welcome relief for the newspaper and its staff.
'We love nothing more than reporting on stories that reflect the incredible community spirit that exists across County Wexford. And without question, Hope and Dream 10 is head and shoulders above any other event in the county in this regard.
'We live in a time where we have serious problems with mental health, with physical well-being, with obesity, isolation and detachment within our communities. So an event that encourages over 2,000 people to get active, to get out there and start walking and running and to raise incredible sums of money for fantastic charities like the Hope Centre and Wexford Hospice Homecare must be championed at every opportunity,' he said.
Confirming the paper's weekly coverage of the event would begin on Tuesday, December 31, Darragh said the newspaper group would focus on the many 'inspirational stories' which makes Hope and Dream 10 such an asset to our community.
Michael then took to the stage to give the expectant audience the news they'd all been waiting for, a reveal which he said had been a source of great consternation and debate: The colour of the 2020 Hope and Dream 10 t-shirt.
'The colour of the t-shirt has become a conversation piece since year one,' he said. 'The first year we didn't have a year on it because we thought it was only a one-off event. But now, just looking at each of the t-shirts from past years brings back memories; the people, the fun, all the little things that happened that we can laugh about now.
'And Brexit would have nothing on the consultation which went into deciding the colour of this year's t-shirt. The amount of people who asked me about it far outweighs anything else I'm ever asked about.'
It was then left to official race-starter Darragh Jordan to officially unveil this year's t-shirt, slowly drawing it out of a bag as the audience waited with baited breath. And the coos of appreciation showed that this year's t-shirt is going to be one of the most popular yet.
Gold with purple lettering, the shirt is a nod to the Wexford colours Michael confirmed as Darragh carefully hung it up alongside the shirts from years gone by. But the youngster's work wasn't finished there. He still had time to launch the Hope and Dream 10 website for 2020, a site where runners can now register online for the race which will take place on April 5.
And there was one final surprise for those who had gathered to hear the details of next year's race, an appearance from a family of keep-fit fanatics who have been making headlines of late. The Hogan family from Ferns, who have qualified for the final of Ireland's Fittest Family to be screened this Sunday, were the guests of honour on the night and very much in demand from their admiring public.
Paying tribute to the Hogans for representing the county so well, Michael also revealed that Tom Hogan had long since been associated with the race, his printing firm responsible for ensuring the t-shirts were emblazoned with the Hope and Dream logo and those of its sponsors every year.