Darkness Into Light, a dawn walk to raise funds for suicide and self-harm crisis centre Pieta House, is expected to attract more than 3,000 participants to Salthill early next month.
Galway FC striker Vinny Faherty, All-Ireland winning camogie star Emma Kilkelly, and Finn Gormley of Corinthians were among those who attended the launch of the walk at the Galway Bay Hotel on Monday.
Online registrations for the 2014 Darkness Into Light Galway walk are already four times greater than this time last year, when up to 2,300 people took part in the event.
Starting and finishing at Leisureland, walkers and runners will cover a 5km course taking in the Salthill Promenade and South Park before watching the sun rise over Galway Bay.
The walk will start in darkness at 4.15am, but each participant who registers in advance will be asked to wear a bright yellow T-shirt along the route.
The walk, in the early hours of Saturday May 10, is the third Darkness Into Light in Galway. The event has grown hugely since it first took place in 2012, when 170 took part. There are 37 walks taking place all across Ireland on that date.
“We started out here with a very modest 170 people walking three years ago in the city,” said Tom McEvoy of Pieta House during the launch of the walk at the Galway Bay Hotel on Monday. “Last year we had 2,300 people taking part in the event. This year we are hoping to double the numbers.
“You are looking on to a fantastic promenade here in Salthill,” Mr McEvoy added. “You are going to have lots of people walking with vibrant, yellow coloured T-shirts, showing the way, and the symbolism behind the whole thing is offering hope. For those who do show up that morning, we are offering a huge statement out there, that we are at one, together in this initiative.”
Participants are urged to register in advance and to wear bright yellow T-shirts on the walk, which begins in darkness. The early dawn represents hope and is symbolic of the work of Pieta House; bringing people from darkness back into the light.
Mr McEvoy said the symbolism of so many people walking together from darkness into light was hugely moving in previous years, and he urged participants to reach out and talk to one another as they cover the 5km route on May 10.
This year’s Galway walk is of even more relevance to the region this year, as Pieta House opened its first west of Ireland facility in Tuam in December.
Mr McEvoy said that some 65 people have already availed of the counselling service available at Pieta House, Tuam, and he thanked the people of Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon who raised more than €200,000 to ensure the facility could open late last year.
“We have a fantastic new facility in Tuam, created by people in the region over the last two years. Over €200,000 was collected within a very short period of time to allow us to expand our service into the west of Ireland. It isn’t the last facility we will be establishing,” he added.
The new facility at Bishop Street, Tuam, will be officially opened by Joan Freeman of Pieta House next Wednesday, April 9, at 6.30pm.
There are discounts available for those who register online before April 10.