Saddling up for charity

CLOSE on 10,000 cyclists, of all ages, took to the saddle to raise funds for worthy causes in this year’s Ring of Kerry charity cycle on Saturday.

One of the first participants on his bike at the official starting point bright and early this Saturday morning was Taoiseach Enda Kenny – an enthusiastic support of the annual fundraiser – and he took off on the gruelling 180km journey in the company of cabinet members Jimmy Deenihan and Ciarán Cannon as well as Deputy Aine Collins and Chief Superintendent Pat Sullivan of the Kerry Gardaí.
Another familiar face was former Miss Ireland Roz Purcell who put her high-profile fitness regime on display when she set quite a pace from the outset.
The colourful sight of the thousands of cyclists negotiating their way around the Ring was quite spectacular and there was a great atmosphere when the bulk of them arrived at the food and rest station in Caherciveen where a rousing welcome and some timely refreshments awaited.
Cyclists from all parts of the country – and further afield – are participating this year to help generate cash for the chosen charities which are:
•    The Kerry Hospice Foundation/Palliative Care
•    Pieta House – Suicide Crisis Centre, Self Harm Crisis Centre
•    Acquired Brain Injury – Kerry Services
•    Ard Cúram Day Care Centre – North Kerry
•    Valentia Island Cottage Hospital
•    Kerry Friends of Motor Neurone
•    Irish Red Cross – Tralee branch
•    NSAC/Kerry Stars Special Olympics Club
•    Kerry Parents & Friends Association
This year’s event, with Hector Ó hEochagáin as master of ceremonies, was fully subscribed within days of the online registration process opening and it left several hundred cyclists very disappointed that they couldn’t participate in what is, without question, the biggest and most successful event of its kind in the country.
All participants had to pay a minimum of €70 and cyclists who want to generate more than that for their chosen charities were encouraged to do so.
The event, now in its 31st year, is the biggest one-day charity fundraising event in Munster and last year it generated in excess of €1 million for deserving charities.