WHEN Kevin Donovan decided to raise money for two causes close to his heart, he racked his brains for a novel way of doing it.
A passionate runner, he heard about two BBC sports personalities who had run a mile in every Premier League ground in England and Scotland for Sports Relief.
That was the light-bulb moment for Kevin, 35, from Midleton. He decided to run one mile of every GAA pitch in Cork county — all 156 of them!
Proceeds from his epic challenge, which he starts tonight, in the majestic surroundings of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, will go towards the Cork Deaf Association and Parkinson’s Association of Ireland.
“I reckon it will take me roughly three months to complete,” says Kevin, who is a member of the Wibbly Wobbly Wonders Running Club.
“I’ll run the last pitch, Russell Rovers in Shanagarry, on June 22. That will be a nice ending. I trained under-age with Russell Rovers.”
But Kevin won’t be undergoing some of his marathon 156-mile run alone.
“My wife, Mary, is walking a mile in 80 Cork GAA pitches,” he says.
“Her dad, Michael O’Callaghan, who passed away last December, suffered from Parkinson’s disease for 16 years. We’d like to help raise awareness about Parkinson’s. It is a cause close to both our hearts.”
Kevin is lacing up his boots for another cause close to his heart — Cork Deaf Association.
“Growing up, I had speech problems, specific speech disorder,” says Kevin. “My parents were concerned that I was only saying a few words.
“Sr Pauline Casey, at Our Lady’s School for the Deaf in Douglas, took me on, finding the problem and gradually encouraging me to speak more words and sentences.
“I kept improving all the time and by the time secondary school came, I was able to enter mainstream education at Midleton CBS.
“My speech continued to improve more and more and gradually I caught up with my classmates.”
Kevin outdid himself.
“I did Chemistry in CIT for four years. Now I work as a quality control analyst for Gilead Sciences.”
But he hasn’t forgotten those who championed him along the way.
“The deaf community in Cork were very good to me,” says Kevin. “I never, ever, forgot that.
“I think my quest to run a mile in every GAA pitch in Cork will help raise awareness about the brilliant services and facilities that the Deaf Association provides for so many people. I’d like to help them in any way that I can.”
Clocking up the miles for two causes he and his wife truly care about is an amazing thing.
“Hopefully, The Deaf Association and Parkinson’s Association Ireland will benefit,” he says.
“Mary and I love being active and we love being part of The Wibbly Wobbly Wonders Running Club.
“It’s great fun and it accommodates both our needs, running and walking. I’m into running and Mary enjoys walking.”
Kevin is a seasoned runner. “I’m fairly fit,” he says. “Running has been my hobby for about five years now.
“I’ve done a lot of running, taking part in 5k road runs and a half-marathon. I’ve been injured from time to time, but now the injuries are all sorted. I hope to stay injury free so that I can enjoy the GAA pitches challenge.”
Kevin is an all-weather man, taking on the elements as he paces himself for the positive impact his challenge will have on the causes that matter to him.
What are people saying to him about his aim to run a mile in every Cork GAA pitch for two worthy causes?
“Some are intrigued,” says Kevin. “Some people think I’m mad!
Others, like me, think he’s a brave and determined young man.
“The Cork Deaf community helped me so much when I was younger. I want to say to them; ‘thanks very much’.”
Kevin’s challenge kicks off April 5, at 7pm at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
You can donate through the website wwwidonate.ie/CorkMile 2019
You can follow his progress on Facebook: facebook.com/countychallenge2019
The Cork Deaf Association is committed to the empowerment of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in Cork city and county through the provision of information, advocacy and support services.
Services include: information on Deafness and Hearing loss.
Sign-language and interpreters
Education: Deaf awareness training
Sign language and lip-reading classes
Family Support Service: advice on benefits and entitlements
Mental Health Services.
Cork Deaf Association, 5 Mac Curtain Street, Cork
Parkinson’s Association of Ireland: www.parkinsons.ie
Freephone helpline:1800-359 359