Pictures: 300 walk and run from Haulbowline to Holland Park in aid of Down Syndrome Centre Cork

Pictures: 300 walk and run from Haulbowline to Holland Park in aid of Down Syndrome Centre Cork

Runners and walkers taking part in Challenge 21 fundraiser in aid of The Down Syndrome centre in Cork from Haulbowline to Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture; Eddie O'Hare

More than 300 people came together this morning to walk, jog, or run 21km in aid of the Down Syndrome Centre Cork.

Kelly Daly, Carol Veiga and Stefanie Wojtek taking part in the Challenge 21 fundraiser in aid of The Down Syndrome centre in Cork. Picture; Eddie O'Hare
Kelly Daly, Carol Veiga and Stefanie Wojtek taking part in the Challenge 21 fundraiser in aid of The Down Syndrome centre in Cork. Picture; Eddie O'Hare

For Sunday’s Challenge 21 fundraiser, supporters set off from Haulbowline for Holland Park, near Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the equivalent of a half marathon.

The fun challenge was organised to raise funds for the Down Syndrome Centre Cork, which is dependent on fundraising to provide vital early intervention services for children with Down syndrome.

Rob Heffernan who started the event with Pat O'Connor and Dave Buckley as they take part in the Challenge 21 fundraiser. Picture; Eddie O'Hare
Rob Heffernan who started the event with Pat O'Connor and Dave Buckley as they take part in the Challenge 21 fundraiser. Picture; Eddie O'Hare

The centre was opened by a group of parents in 2017. They saw the need for a facility in Cork that would provide support and services for families with young children with Down syndrome.

It also offers support around diagnosis and early intervention.

Tony O'Sullivan, Tahlia Britton, Majorie O'Connell and Pa Murphy taking part in the Challenge 21 fundraiser. Picture; Eddie O'Hare
Tony O'Sullivan, Tahlia Britton, Majorie O'Connell and Pa Murphy taking part in the Challenge 21 fundraiser. Picture; Eddie O'Hare

120 children avail of the centre’s services and demand has increased significantly in recent years.

Rob Heffernan, Irish champion race walker and Olympian, led the challenge, and he told The Echo he was very happy to help the Down Syndrome Centre Cork.

“I’ve done some work with the Down Syndrome Centre Cork and with kids who have Down syndrome over the years, and I’m always delighted to meet them, because I just find the kids a breath of fresh air,” Mr Heffernan said.

Cian Desmond, chairman; John Canniffe, Rob Heffernan, Carol Veiga and Lisa Donovan, centre manager taking part in the Challenge 21 fundraiser. Picture; Eddie O'Hare
Cian Desmond, chairman; John Canniffe, Rob Heffernan, Carol Veiga and Lisa Donovan, centre manager taking part in the Challenge 21 fundraiser. Picture; Eddie O'Hare

“The more funds that are raised for the centre to give them opportunities to do more things, the better, because I just absolutely love the kids.”

Cian Desmond, whose daughter, Freya, uses the services of the Down Syndrome Centre Cork, was one of the organisers of Sunday’s event.

“The scale of the support from the community for the fundraiser, with so many people getting behind our kids, is just very humbling,” Mr Desmond said.

He praised Green Rebel Marine, the event’s main sponsor, and 20 other companies sponsoring the event, as well as the volunteers, family, and friends who supported the challenge.

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