Three friends will let their feet do the talking over the next few weeks as they undertake a novel campaign aimed at raising much-needed funds for counselling services in Connacht, while also raising awareness of community support for those experiencing challenging times.
Eunice Moran, Derry O’Sullivan and Michael Gallagher launched their ‘Walk For Life’ project in Castlebar recently and explained that they aim to walk through the five Connacht counties over a week in December, but also revealed they have a back-up plan if Covid restrictions remain in place.
Derry O’Sullivan is the man who came up with the plan and he was bubbling with enthusiasm at the launch. The Ballindine native who’s well-known in the hospitality and sporting fields said local support services are more important than ever right now.
“These are tough times for everyone. We’re heading into winter and many people are struggling with the ordinary challenges of life and now we have the pandemic multiplying those worries.
"People need support now more than ever before and they need somewhere in their local community they can get help when they’re struggling to see the light. However, our counselling services are struggling financially as their regular fundraising avenues have dried up.”
This theme was echoed by Eunice Moran, a woman known far and wide for her musical ability and broadcasting skills.
“The three of us are very proud west of Ireland people and every day we see the need for mental health supports in our society. We want to do our bit to help financially, but we also want to give people throughout Connacht the confidence to seek help.
"We’re all on a journey through life and we all need help along the way at some stage. Walking through the five counties is our way of uniting us all and we aim to have a bit of fun while doing so.
“If Covid regulations make this impossible we will spend the week walking in Mayo and look for everyone to join us virtually.”
The third member of the band, writer and broadcaster Michael Gallagher is delighted with the response so far and said the project is an ambitious one, but it’s also an adventure to be savoured.
“Three of us heading off walking for a week in the windy, wild days of December is a bit mad surely, but it will be worth it. There are many people of all ages struggling in our society. People who find it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so getting out of bed to train every morning and wondering how are we possibly going to do this thing is nothing compared to what so many people in our society experience every single day. We want to show there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.”
The trio will set off on Tuesday, December 8 and aim to walk between the county senior football champions in the five counties over the following week. They will be limited in numbers because of Covid regulations but the trio will be joined by one well-known sports star each day. Eunice is hoping that communities along the route will do their own virtual walks to support the cause and join the fun.
"We’d love to have a big crowd walking with us, but that’s not possible. We want all communities, all clubs, all organisations young and old to get walking with us virtually and make this a special event which will brighten up the winter. If the three of us can attempt to walk huge distances every day, lots of people can get out and get moving."
The fundraising has already started with a GoFundMe page set up at https://www.gofundme.com/the-walk-for-life-2020 while the journey from couch to Connacht can be followed every day on the Walk ForLife facebook page.
The Walk For Life project will raise funds for counselling services throughout Connacht, including Mindspace and many more to be announced.