The Big 4 in 24 group with some of Donegal's Little Blue Heroes. Photo: Clive Wasson
Donegal country music star Daniel O’Donnell has lent his support to ‘The Big 4 in 24’ - a gruelling challenge that will see six Donegal people climb the highest mountain in each of Ireland’s four provinces.
‘The Big 4 in 24’ is a unique challenge that will see the group raise money for Little Blue Heroes.
The challenge was officially launched on Saturday at Arena 7 in Letterkenny.
St Johnston man Don Pearson, Creeslough’s Cathal McGettigan, Sharon Ward from Malin Head, Kerrykeel native Damian Rogers, Paddy Robinson who hails from Crolly and Gweedore woman Fiona Nic Fhionnlaoich will take on the towering expedition on June 24-25.
Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, ex-Donegal footballer Colm McFadden and Mrs Brown’s Boys actor Danny O’Carroll were in attendance for the launch.
Singing sensation Daniel has pledged his support. In a special video message to the group, Daniel hailed the unique venture.
“I want to wish all those involved all the very best in their endeavour,” Daniel said.
“Little Blue Heroes do special things for the children and their families to lighten the mood in difficult times.
“If you can help them out by giving a donation, it would be gratefully appreciated and would aid people who are needing help. It would give them the comfort that people care about them in difficult times.”
Little Blue Heroes aims to help families in need from local communities in Ireland who have children undergoing long-term medical treatments for serious illnesses. Children accepted into the organisation become honorary Gardaí.
Nationwide there are 186 Little Blue Heroes, 13 of whom are in Donegal.
At Saturday’s launch in Arena 7 in Letterkenny, Little Blue Heroes Caoimhe, Jack D, Eoin, Kane, Caelum, Oisin, Jack B, Ray and Josh joined with the climbers to mark the launch. They gave a shout-out to Donegal’s other Little Blue Heroes, Matthew, Rhys, Michael and Noah.
The Big 4 in 24 group begin on the 850m Slieve Donard in Down before tracking to Lugnaquilla in Wicklow, standing at 925m, followed by the 814m of Mweelrea in Mayo.
They finish on Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, in Kerry, which rises to 1038m.
Cathal McGettigan, one of the participants, said: “Every morning - and we have talked about this as a group - that these little children get up, they are climbing a mountain, a massive mountain. Their families and parents are amazing. They are our little heroes. We just want to do as much as we can. They are heroes every day.”
Little Blue Heroes is a not-for-profit charity operated entirely by volunteers made up of Garda members/staff, retired Garda members, their families, friends and civic minded people from communities.
Last year the charity managed the distribution of €350,000 to aid children and families in dealing with the illnesses and special treatments.
“I cannot the of a better charity to be involved in,” McGuinness said.
“Congratulations to these people for shining a light on it and for the work that you are doing. Every single day is a challenge for the Little Blue Heroes. It’s great to see everyone in the same room with the same thought process and value system trying to help shine a light and move things forward.”
An Garda Síochana are on board to aid with some of the logistics and the group have a driver in Eamon Ward who is also heavily involved with the route planning.
Some of the group are training for their own individuals challenges such as the Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra Race or the Seven Sisters Mountain Race.
Garda Sergeant Charlene Anderson outlined the work of the Little Blue Heroes foundation.
“We try to forge the links within communities,” she said.
“As part of the organisation, they provide support services and assistance for families. They organise holidays for families too and that’s something they want to get off the ground a bit more. They do some much and there is so much that people are aware of. It’s about spreading awareness. These brilliant people are taking on a gruelling challenge.”
The organisers thanked a range of people, including the IPA, the hiking club who were represented by Danny Devlin at the launch.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge,” O’Carroll said. I went up Errigal once and Amanda was knackered carrying me down again!”
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