The race is on to end homelessness

Stars line out for Midlands Simon relay race event

The Midlands Simon Community is organising a relay race with a difference as part of its fundraising efforts for National Simon Week. The event, which is being hosted by Athlone Institute of Technology, will provide a unique way for people across the Midlands to show solidarity with some of the most vulnerable in our society and help end homelessness across the region, while having a great day out.

The ‘Race against Homelessness’ will take place at AIT on Saturday 27 September at 3.30pm on the newly developed Olympic-standard athletics track, which is to be the site of the Community Games 2009-2011. The event will be the first to be held at this fantastic new facility.

A number of high profile personalities from sport, politics, entertainment, arts, and culture have already given their support to the event and will even be taking part on the day. Each will run or walk a one kilometre leg of the 10km distance, and will pass over a symbolic key to the next participant at the end of their leg.

Among those attending on the day will be Pete Casey, presenter of The Afternoon Drive on ShannonSide Radio; Pauline Curley, Irish Olympiad - Marathon, Beijing 2008; Westmeath footballer Dessie Dolan; Johnny Dooley, Westmeath hurling manager, former Offaly hurler, and GAA All-Star; Senan Connell, TV3 and Today FM GAA pundit and former Dublin footballer; RTE’s Ciaran Mullooly; Laois footballer Ross Munnelly; Professor Ciaran Ó Catháin, president, of AIT; Jim Smyth, presenter of RTÉ’s House Hunters in the Sun and teacher in Offaly School of Special Education; and Joe Whelan, chairperson of Westmeath County Council.

Midlands Simon Community is now looking for people to join the ‘Race’. We need you to complete just one kilometre on the track (running or walking ), and raise a minimum of €50 in sponsorship. This will be the first midlands event to be held during national Simon Week, a week-long, nationwide programme of activities designed to increase awareness of homelessness, and to highlight the issues faced by those experiencing homelessness.

Commenting on the event, AIT president Prof Ciaran Ó’Catháin said the institute “is honoured to be able to support the Midlands Simon Community during National Simon Week. AIT is frequently an agent of change in the Midlands, enabling people to fulfil their full potential and improve the quality of their lives. We are delighted to make our facilities available for this truly worthwhile cause.”

Mr Tony O’Riordan, CEO, Midlands Simon Community added, “This is a truly one-off opportunity for people to be among the first to experience this truly world class facility, while at the same time show support for those who need it most.

“We are absolutely delighted to be associated with this unique event and the Midlands Simon Community would like to express our most sincere thanks to all in AIT, and especially Professor Ó Catháin, for making this event possible, and convey our appreciation to all those taking part as it will provide a massive boost for our work”.

Since the start of 2008, Midlands Simon Community has seen a significant increase in the numbers of people who require its services. This year to date the numbers of referrals received by Midlands Simon Community are over double those for the same period last year. This represents over 160 people including individuals, couples, and families. Midlands Simon Community helps people to progress out of homelessness by supporting them to source suitable accommodation, assisting them to move into their new home and supporting them to maintain it, while also helping them to overcome the many other issues faced by those who are homeless such as health and welfare needs, poverty, loneliness, and isolation.

The race to end homelessness really is on and you can help, whether you’re into running or just like walking with your friends and colleagues - you will be very welcome. Remember, no matter where you finish, you will be a winner! Spectators are also encouraged to come along and support this event.

For more information on this event, and/or sponsorship cards, contact Cormac P Lally, Development Officer, on 087 9925083 or [email protected].

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