A group of willing participants were called to a meeting at Athea Library on Thursday night August 15th with a view to organising a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities Ireland in Dublin which provides accommodation and other services to families of sick children in Crumlin. Liz Sullivan, the brainchild of the event, felt a responsibility to give back to Ronald McDonald House whose services had benefited close family members of Liz and also other members of the Athea community.
At this initial meeting, we discussed our target for fundraising ranging between €5,000 and €10,000. Some of us were reluctant to even dream of hitting the €10,000 mark, but we should have known that Athea and the surrounding parishes, as always, would support us 100%. The events planned for the weekend included a Coffee Morning and Stripe Dress up Day at Athea National School on Friday October 5th and a Striped Fun Run & Walk on Sunday October 6th.
Following the approval of our permit and purchase of our insurance cover, our next job was to advertise the event and create some hype and interest within the parish. We decided to proceed with a Red & White striped theme for the event aiming to transform the village into a red and white striped kingdom much to the delight of local Cork supporters. The quaint house beside the bridge, affectionately known as ‘Rita Danaher’s’ was the first house to receive treatment thanks to Dick Reidy & Family for granting permission and to Scanlons Paints for sponsoring the paint. This house provided the perfect backdrop to our photos advertising the event which were expertly executed by Photos by lizzie. Although half frightened by what Lizzie had up her sleeve for us, we shouldn’t have been worried as once again Lizzie managed to capture the essence of the fundraiser in a fun and enjoyable fashion.
We put out a call for residents and business owners in the village and along the route to join our ‘red and white striped movement’ and they did not disappoint. Flags, bunting, teddy bears, ribbon, scarecrows and so on were all used for the creative displays. Your creative effort impressed us all! Margaret Carroll & Derek Curtin were awarded the prize of the best dressed house, kindly sponsored by the Top of the Town. Hannah Mai Sheehy Collins and the Athea Craft Group were also quick to volunteer their services to design some eye catching decorations for Colbert Street and the Horgan Family added some eye catching stripes to a van parked at the School!
Graphic Designer, Megan Ahern took on the task of designing a poster featuring Athea’s Famous Giant and ducks decked out in their stripes. These characters would later feature in the Treasure Hunt at every kilometre interval with Aidan Curry, Sarah Brouder Thomas Brosnan, Tadhg Ahern and Claire Nash taking on the roles.
Local electrician, Chris Barrett, also offered his services free of charge to turn Athea into a red light district (in a family friendly way!) Our mural, library and telephone were all turned red leading up to the occasion. Incidentally, congratulations to Chris and Sharon who tied the knot in Athea recently.
In order to get an insight into the benefit of the service to families in their time of need, we invited some local families to share their testimonials with us demonstrating the impact. The Ahern, Hickey, Keily and O’Sullivan Families all willingly provided an insight into the service and pledged their support. These testimonials proved crucial in gaining support and by making the connection to our small but mighty community.
We quickly adopted the slogan ‘Athea Runs Faster in Stripes’ with the Weekly Observer, Limerick Leader, Listowel Advertiser, Kerry’s Eye , Kerryman and Athea Newsletter and ‘Kathleen’s Corner’ all promising prominent advertising space in their publications. Social Media personality Bernard Casey also produced a short video clip which proved a huge hit online. Our event also featured on Today FM and on various blogs on Instagram.
Colm & Co at CH Fitness offered a weekly Saturday Morning Couch to 5K class leading up to the 5k which was open to everyone to attend. Donations to RMcD House were accepted in lieu of payment. Colm also committed to warming up our runners on the day of the event, welcomed by all participants.
Local Garda D.P. McCarthy pledged his support to the event from the outset and was of huge assistance to us. He enlisted the help of other Gardaí ensuring the safety of all participants. Parking was offered by Athea GAA, Athea Soccer Club and St. Bartholomew’s Church, with a planned shuttle bus to operate from Athea Soccer Grounds offered free of charge by Mullane Bus Hire. The route of the 5K was also signposted at various intervals by signage on loan from the ‘Zoe Cycle’ in Abbeyfeale. The voluntary commitment by our numerous stewards also ensured the day ran smoothly.
Dj Excel (Declan Carroll) blasted music from the hall from early on the Sunday morning calling all to take part on the run. The music created a carnival atmosphere and an opportunity for some of the participants to ‘dance over the line’. TJ Hunt also agreed provided some music around the route to keep us all entertained on our 5K journey.
We were fortunate to receive a donation from Ballygowan to provide water at two water stations, one half-way around the route, and another at the finishing line. These stations were manned by Eileen Naughton and Mary Ann Stack, the latter being unrecognisable on the day!
Scanlon Construction provided barriers which aided us to keep the crowds off the route and get a good view of the first participants to cross the finishing line. However, MC John Hunt, proved better than any barrier on the day keeping the route clear, getting the participants ready for the take-off and by keeping everyone present up to date on the happenings of the afternoon.
The Athea First Responders, Dr Murphy and the Newcastle West Branch of the Irish Red Cross agreed to be on hand to treat any casualties. We also added another layer of protection by requesting Fr. Duggan to perform a blessing to all prior to the run!
Mrs Doyle from Father Ted would have been in her element over the weekend such was the volume of sandwiches and tea provided throughout the weekend. The greatest bakers in the parish dropped in cakes of all sorts from early Friday morning with a large crowd calling in to sample the produce. Tea & coffee was provided by the organising committee as well as Tina Mulvihill and Angela Cafferky lending a hand.
It was also a sight to behold to witness over 150 kids from the National School dressed in their stripes proudly supporting Ronald McDonald House. Well done and thanks to all students, parents and teachers for their huge contribution towards our weekend.
We were also provided with the opportunity to provide refreshments at the hurling match at Athea GAA for the Billy Collins Cup on Saturday morning. This allowed us to increase our donations further thanks to the quick thinking of the GAA club. The usual Friday night Bingo goers also came on board and provided a handsome donation to the fund. Finally, a bucket even made its way to Dublin with the Mothers and Others Ladies GAA team!
Before cock crow on Sunday morning our gang were up preparing refreshments for the day ahead in our magnificent facility ‘Con Colbert Memorial Hall’ which became our second home for the weekend. We were extremely lucky to have Matt and Coleen on board providing guidance and sharing their expertise. Theresa O’Halloran also joined our efforts on the day helping with the food, but also keeping us all entertained and alert!
Helping us to deal with the crowds registering were Kathleen & Shella Mullane, Eilish Geoghegan as well as Claire, Amy and Grace Ryan. Registration ran smoothly with over 600 names recorded. Elaine O’Keeffe was also on hand to offer support throughout the day. Post registration, participants had a chance to meet with Limerick Junior Camogie players Noelle and Michelle Curtin and Limerick Senior Hurler Gearóid Hegarty.
The crowds that gathered on the Sunday afternoon in Athea were comparable to the crowds seen in Athea during the Bike Rally Years. Although we were travelling the same route as the rally, we were moving at a somewhat reduced speed! Saying that, first man home David Toomey and first woman home Rachael Stokes could challenge any motorbike!
There was one final striped day fundraiser which was organised by Lizzie Murphy and Jo Flinn at Free Range Kids Old Rectory in Croom. This donation added considerably to our overall amount allowing us to tip the 25k mark with flying colours! A word of thanks also to Kathleen (Val) White for all of her efforts fundraising on our behalf and to Áine & Diarmuid at O’Riordan’s and Maria Vaughan at Urban Angels for hosting their own fundraisers also.
As of today, October 18th 2019, with your love and support, we have managed to raise the unbelievable sum of €28,938. We are completely humbled by the support from you all. The €25k was a very important and significant mark for us to reach. €25,000 is the sum which will unlock the key of a Bedroom Door in the New Ronald Mc Donald Accommodation in Dublin set to be completed in 2020. This key won’t just unlock any old door, it will unlock a door to ‘The Athea Room’, which will be a haven and a home for families of sick children sometime in the future. This will ensure that Athea and the #Athearunsfasterinstripes weekend will be forever remembered in the Ronald McDonald Facility.
It is a remarkable achievement to record a little over €560 in expenses for the entire weekend thanks to our generous sponsors who offered amazing support and were so willing and eager to donate and support our cause. We now urge you all to support all of our sponsors listed below in return for their generosity.
Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who supported our fundraising efforts and for embracing the red and white stripes over the last number of weeks. We should all be very grateful to be living in a very generous community who are willing to support a cause who looks after their own.
We are but a small village, with a very big heart.