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03 Jul 2022

In Pictures - 400 people walk in special 20th anniversary Bluestack Challenge

Participants thanked for supporting Bluestack Special Needs Foundation users

In Pictures - 400 people walk in special 20th anniversary Bluestack Challenge

One of the groups of walkers setting off on the Bluestack Challenge in Glencolmcille on Saturday morning

There was a great feeling of celebration in the air as around 400 people gathered in Glencolmcille for the 20th anniversary Bluestack Challenge.

The walkers set off from Naomh Columba GAA pitch in staggered groups between 9am and 10am, travelling along a stunning coastal route to An Port and the wider area, before finishing off the 25km loop back in Glencolmcille.

All money raised from the challenge will support people with additional needs who use the services of the Bluestack Specials Needs Foundation.

Donegal Person of the Year Noel Cunningham said: "The work at the foundation means that some families can basically survive."

Wishing participants well, he continued: "After all that has gone on for the last two-and-a-half years it is such a privilege and such an honour to be here."

Wendy McCarry is manager of the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation, and is acutely aware of how much the services mean to families. Her own daughter Ava has complex additional needs. 

She said: "Like any other family, she is our absolute world. Our whole lives revolve around giving her a quality of life that would not happen without today and without all of you. 

"As a parent I just want to thank every single one of you who is taking steps today. Every penny you raise for our organisation means the world to us."

Ms McCarry told those gathered that there were 350 families across Donegal benefiting from the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation.

She continued: "As a mother of five children I was forever in the car with my four boys, going to play dates, birthday parties.

"My daughter went nowhere. She was never invited anywhere until the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation. It is a lifeline."

Ms McCarry thanked the staff, Board of Trustees and the volunteers at the foundation, adding: "We are not a state funded organisation. We rely entirely on the goodwill of our community and you have never let us down. You have changed our lives and you have changed the lives of our children."

Áine McBrearty, the young woman whose birth inspired her parents Patrick and Bernardine McBrearty to establish the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation, took to the stage to entertain participants with a dance to the very appropriate Come Fly With Me.

Her Dad Patrick then thanked everyone who made the event possible - farmers on whose land the challenge was taking place, van drivers who were supporting the walkers, and the people of Glencolmcille for a warm welcome.

He had a special word of thanks for his family, and for those taking part in the challenge.

"You are all brilliant!" he said.

More information on the many ways in which the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation supports and enhances the lives of people with additional needs can be found at bluestackfoundation.com and on social media.