THE highly ambitious ‘100km for €100k for Autism’ event was officially launched by none other than the great ‘Iron Man from Rhode’, Paddy McCormack along with one of the stars of RTE’s Operation Transformation show, Edenderry’s Adrian Brereton last Friday evening in O’Toole’s, Rhode.
Paddy, who collected the Bridge House Hotel / Offaly GAA Football Hall of Fame away the previous Friday, pledged his support for the April 1 event which is hoped will raise €100,000 for Irish Autism Action the national charity for autism in Ireland, whose patron is Keith Duffy.
MC was Jody Gunning and he spoke of his involvement in the previous fund-raiser for autism in 2010 which involved Rhode minor footballers. That event raised a staggering €11,750 for Irish Autism Action and Jody said that he was delighted to be involved again in this project.
Chrissie Maguire (Chairperson of Rhode Ladies Football Club) spoke of her delight to be involved in this event too and promised to give all the support she can along with her players and colleagues. The rise of Rhode ladies is remarkable success story with the club annexing six adult and thirteen underage titles won since their formation in 1998.
Kevin Whelan (CEO of Irish Autism Action) referred to the importance and the greatness of the community spirit. He said that he could really see and feel a great sense of that spirit in Rhode and was overwhelmed by the task that Rhode ladies and the committee were about to undertake.
He explained that the money raised in events goes directly to supporting people with autism and their families. There are many different types of requests and in the current climate and Irish Autism Action will always do what they can to help the people who need it most. Irish Autism Action receive no state funding with the monies it receives is through the generosity of the Irish people home and abroad.
Kevin also spoke about Niall’s challenge and he said that Niall has a son with autism, but he is not just thinking of his own family situation but others as well with his involvement in this challenge.
Once again, the RTE programme Operation Transformation has gripped the nation and Edenderry man Adrian Brereton is excelling in his ambition to lose weight.
Adrian has a massive following on facebook and has large numbers of friends supporting him on his evening walks. Adrian attended Friday night’s launch and said that he would do what he could to help raise funds for autism and he also pledged to run the last 10km with Niall on April 1.
Adrian, fresh from a walk in Tullamore that evening, commented on the great rivalry that exists between Edenderry and Rhode on the football pitch but added that for this event and for any events off the pitch there is always a great companionship and respect to help each other.
He encouraged everyone from both Edenderry and Rhode to get involved and take part in the ‘100km for €100k for Autism’ and spoke of how he was relishing his Operation Transformation journey.
Niall Murphy said that when he chose the date for his 100km challenge it was to coincide with the start of Autism Awareness month as World Autism Day is Monday April 2, however he was mindful it was also April Fools day and he commented that maybe he fits that tag too with the challenge.
Niall spoke about his son Ryan who is 11 years old and said that his decision to run 100km over ten 10km laps was to relate to the journey of Ryan’s life with autism.
Niall said he knew in 2002 that something wasn’t right with Ryan and proceeded down the road of diagnosis but it was 2004 before that was confirmed. Ryan started school in October 2004, three days before his fourth birthday, in Athboy, 32 miles from Rhode. He spent 10 months in school in Athboy before joining Saplings Mullingar where he currently attends.
It has been a struggle and living with autism isn’t easy but Niall commented that the support of Kevin Whelan and Irish Autism Action has been a major help. He said that to run the 100km was easier than sometimes dealing with autism.
Niall also spoke of the great support that he has received in Rhode over the years and again made reference to the 2010 event which involved Rhode Minor Club, players, Eoghan Hickey, Jody Gunning and Michael McNamee.
Niall concluded by explaining the route which will commence at Rhode GAA pitch, to Rhode village, turning right down past the school and left for Rathcobican, down to the end and turn left for Ballybryan and back into Rhode village climbing Fahy Hill. He said that on each lap he will need to run up to the Community Centre to ensure that each lap is 10km.
Niall outlined the ways that people can support by purchasing blue Autism Awareness Flags, being a marshall for the day, participate in the 10K road race at 12 noon approximately, join Niall on any of the laps or become a captain.
For more details visit facebook www.facebook.com/groups/100kfor100k or www.autismireland.ie
This promises to be a unique event for the Rhode parish and hopefully on April 1 the target of both 100ks will be reached. Niall finally paid tribute to the committee, co-ordinator Michael Mc Namee, Aidan Swords, Eoghan Hickey, Jody Gunning, Chrissie Maguire, Evelyn Malone and Jan Byrne. He also thanked Niall O’Toole for his support for the launch and to everyone who attended.
Niall has also set up a sponsor.ie donation page for people who wish may not be able to attend or help in any way, but would like to make a contribution to the charity - http://www.sponsor.ie/niall-murphy/event/100km-for-100k-for-autism