SPECIAL Olympics Ireland is encouraging people from Kerry to help raise €200,000 in funds throughout May as part of its annual collection day campaign.
The target is needed to enable the charity to continue its support of over 7,300 children and adults living with an intellectual disability in the country. For the second year running, the annual collection, which culminates on Friday, will go virtual in response to Covid-19.
Special Olympics athlete Luke Scollard from Scartaglin is encouraging locals to donate €6 by texting Sport to 50300 or by visiting cantstopnow.ie to make a donation or to organise a virtual fundraising event.
An athlete at Kerry Stars Special Olympics Club, Luke is a big personality who has participated in several sports, including athletics, basketball, soccer and swimming.
Known for his warm and welcoming personality, he was put forward to take part in the club’s athlete leadership programme which involves encouraging newly recruited athletes to develop skills that will help them lead more independent lives, such as money management and public speaking practices.
A natural entrepreneur and skilled fundraiser, Luke has played an integral role in seeking out additional fundraising support for Kerry Stars within his local community.
In 2014, he secured a charity partnership with Castleisland Races and when local athlete Gary O’Sullivan was raising money to travel to the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi, Luke pledged his support by helping Gary with various fundraising initiatives.
Luke lives at home in Scartaglin with parents, Brendan and Lucy, and two older brothers, Brian and Barry, and he is coping well through the lockdown.
“I’ve missed doing normal things, like meeting my friends from Kerry Stars and catching up with them, but I have been able to keep in touch with everyone by using social media. We do lots of video calls and end up chatting for hours, which passes the time,” he said.
“I live on a farm, so I’ve been kept busy and concentrating on baking, which I love,” he added.
With all 292 of the charity’s clubs across Ireland closed due to the pandemic, Special Olympics Ireland has worked diligently to develop new ways to keep its athletes physically and emotionally fit, including operating virtual clubs and developing healthy eating recipes, live workouts and mindfulness techniques.
The collection day is the charity’s biggest annual fundraising event and the amount raised will enable Special Olympics to support its clubs such as the Kerry Stars Special Olympics Club, by creating the material needed to keep its athletes connected, until is safe for them to meet in person again.