A Claregalway mother is to walk the 1,500km from Donegal to Galway along the Wild Atlantic Way during her four weeks of annual leave to raise money for a charity which provided vital care for her grand-nephew.
Eileen Crowe Lynch plans to walk 50km a day over about eight hours during the challenge which starts on May 12th. Friends and family have promised to join her for a few days over the month during the trek from Malin Head to Salthill. The 53-year old is hoping others will sign up along the route to build momentum and help reach her target of €10,000.
During her training over the last few months, she has managed to clock up 100km a week along the boreens and byways of the province. So the prospect of 350km over the course of seven days is rather daunting, she admits.
“Finding the time to train is the problem, I do a bit of hill walking but only started walking when I turned 50. I did 100km of the Camino two years ago which was very enjoyable but also very challenging.”
Last year she walked up and down Croagh Patrick four times in an event organised to raise awareness about the need to improve services for families with disabled children. At the time, many of her friends said they would have sponsored her.
“I feel so privileged to have enjoyed good health all my life and would like to give something back,” reflects Eileen, whose children range in age from 17 to 26.
So she decided if she was going to do another challenge, this time it would be a walk along the Wild Atlantic Way to raise money for the Jack and Jill Foundation which proved a lifeline for her niece, Kierra Adams Kelly from Loughrea.
Kierra’s son Alister has been described by the medical fraternity as a true miracle baby, defying all the odds by surviving.
He was born with severe and multiple medical conditions. He is fully blind, must be peg fed, cannot walk, had heart surgery at three days old and suffers from seizures. He requires 24 hours a day specialist care that can only be provided by his parents or a highly skilled nurse. He sleeps just two or three hours a night.
Alister spent his first eleven months in hospital bar two short visits home and was only discharged by his medial team due to the help provided by the charity.
“He has overcome so much. He is our lovable rogue, a complete charmer,” remarked Kierra.
“To put it bluntly Jack and Jill are the reason we have gotten through the last four years intact and Alister is doing so well. Jack and Jill provided the respite needed to survive and the flexibility to have it when would benefit us the most.
“How much Jack and Jill has meant to us is so hard to quantify but put simply it has allowed us to go to family weddings, spend time with our other two sons, to simply do homework, cooking dinner, watching a movie, going to support them at a match and attending their Christmas plays.
“We are together as a couple because of Jack and Jill, they have given us sleep, time to escape the house even to go for a coffee or a walk. But most importantly they have allowed us to get Alister home from hospital from the start.”
Eileen is using her annual leave from Glynn’s Centra in Carnmore where she has worked for 18 years to undertake the walk. So far she has already received €1,000 in sponsorship, with another €1,000 pledged.
She has received an offer of a free bed from a Donegal B&B owner and is hopeful others will follow suit to curb the expense of the trip.
Donations can be made on her Facebook page—Walk On The Wild Side for Jack and Jill—which she will be updating on a daily basis during the marathon journey. For further information contact 086 1564735.