50 cyclists fly the flag for a brilliant cause

Founding members of the Ring of Kerry Cycle, from including Denis Geaney (left) and Theresa Looney with her husband Pat Looney who is gearing up for the cycle having also taken part in the inaugural event four decades before.

The Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle event returns this Saturday marking four decades of dedication to supporting hundreds of worthy causes. including the kidney community it was originally established to support.

Among the thousands of cyclists taking part this year will be a team of nearly 50 cyclists flying the flag for the Irish Kidney Association and promoting the lifesaving act of organ donation for transplantation.

The group includes kidney transplant recipients, living donors and their families.

On your bike: Shane O’Connell, a heart transplant recipient from Castleisland

The Ring of Kerry Charity cycle, which has now raised close to €20 million for more than 170 charities and worthy causes, was initially founded by two Killarney stalwarts, Theresa Looney and Denis Geaney, who set about raising funds to build a dialysis centre in Tralee for Kerry patients who had to travel to Cork for their treatment.

Theresa’s husband Pat Looney cycled in the inaugural cycle and no, four decades later, he will once again take on the challenge.

“We are thrilled to see such a remarkable group of participants this year”, said Kerry IKA branch representative Theresa.

“Their stories of generosity and resilience highlight the importance of our mission and the incredible difference that organ donation can make.”

Over the past four decades the annual Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle event has  gone from strength to strength and is now a massive sportive on the annual cycling calendar, both nationally and beyond.

IKA Cycle Ambassador, Anna Pokojska from Killarney, gets in gear for the big event

Among the riders taking on the 170km scenic circular route of the Ring of Kerry are inspiring individuals with personal connections to kidney health and organ donation, including grandmother Una Flynn from Milltown. She is undertaking the cycle for the IKA and in support of patients like her four-year-old grandson Jack Richards who, his family hopes, will receive a kidney transplant this year.

Taking on the cycling challenge together are four Kerry ladies, Eve Moynihan, Edel Lehane, Sinead and Karina Kelleher. They are raising funds for the IKA as their families were impacted by kidney disease.

John Paul Lehane received a kidney donated by his brother in 2018 and they are grateful to the family of the deceased donor for the kidney transplant Donal Kelleher underwent in June last year.

Liz Fenton, from Killorglin,has set herself an additional challenge on the same day of climbing Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntoohil, inspired by a friend, a married father of three and nurse, who has kidney failure and is undergoing dialysis treatment.

IKA cycling ambassadors and supporters ahead of this year’s event

Joan McDonald, a living kidney donor from Oysterhaven, Cork, who generously gave a kidney to her sister, Fiona, nine months ago will join the cycle, embodying the spirit of giving and hope.

Also participating is Alan Cullen, a kidney recipient living in Nurney in Carlow, who received the life-saving gift from his brother, Ian, just under seven months ago, showcasing the profound impact of organ donation.

To celebrate the 22nd anniversary of his kidney transplant, Séamy McDermott from Ballybofey, Co Donegal is taking part, for the first time, in the iconic cycle.

Pedal power: Seven-year-old Cialan Walsh at the Irish Kidney Association’s launch of this year’s Ring of Kerry Cycle.
Pictures: Michelle Cooper Galvin

Tipperary man, Francis Hogan, is taking on the 170km cycle literally days before he commences dialysis treatment. A father of five living in Templemore and a Clonmel based businessman, his kidney function is at just 10 per cent.

Ireland’s first combined heart and liver transplant recipient, Martin Malinowski from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan will also be donning his cycling gear in support of the Irish Kidney Association for his first ever Ring Charity Cycle as will heart transplant recipient Shane O’Connell from Castleisland. Both are shining examples of the impact of organ donation for transplantation.

For those who can’t join in person, it’s not too late to support the Irish Kidney Association by participating remotely in their own way on the event day or throughout the month of July. Whether individually over a series of days, in relays with friends, or through gym classes, you can register and contribute through the IKA’s Virtual Cycle iDonate link on its website page www.ika.ie/ringofkerry.

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