Today on World Down Syndrome Day, Irish Champion race walker and Olympian Rob Heffernan launched a fun challenge in aid of the Down Syndrome Centre Cork.
The Challenge 21 fundraiser invites more than 200 participants to walk, jog or run the 21km distance from Haulbowline to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday 19th June 2022 to raise funds to support vital services for children with Down syndrome in Cork. The route will follow the proposed greenway along Cork Harbour through Shanbally, Monsktown, Passage, Rochestown and on to Blackrock.
The 21 km distance was not chosen randomly. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome. Most babies inherit 23 chromosomes from each parent, for a total of 46 chromosomes. Babies with Down syndrome, however, end up with three chromosomes at position 21. This extra chromosome results in a lifelong condition, which may increase the risk of certain health issues. It may also impact physical development and learning abilities, though each person with Down Syndrome is different
All funds raised from Challenge 21 will go directly to support the Down Syndrome Centre Cork, a best-in-class facility based on Forge Hill which offers services to children with Down syndrome and their families. The Centre is a registered charity but does not receive any government funding and is wholly reliant on the generosity of the public and local businesses to stay in operation.
The challenge, which is the equivalent distance of a half marathon, will take approximately 3 to 4 hours at a brisk walking pace. There will be plenty of support with water stations, toilet facilities and stewards along the route. Celebrations will continue for the afternoon with a finish line party hosted by Red FM’s Stevie G.
Commenting at the launch of Challenge 21, elite athlete Rob Heffernan, who is also the new co-host of the Breakfast Show on Red Fm, said “I’m delighted to get to combine my love for activity and all things Cork in aid of the Down Syndrome Centre Cork, which is a truly fantastic charity. I was invited to visit the centre last year and I must say that I’m so impressed with the facilities and the services and am absolutely amazed by what a group of determined parents can do. They receive no government funding and are so passionate about providing the best start in life for their children. I hope others will come out and join me on the day and get behind this fundraising effort as best as they can!”
Event organiser Cian Desmond, whose daughter Freya uses the services, said, “We are delighted with the support that this event has attracted from parents, the legend that is Rob Heffernan, the wider business community and especially our sponsor Green Rebel Marine. It’s great to see everyone getting behind our kids and we are really looking forward to the walk along Cork harbour.”
The Challenge 21 fundraiser is organised by a committee of parents whose children rely on support services, therapies and the network of lasting friendships which the Down Syndrome Centre Cork provides. The organising committee are inviting all those that would like to join the event to sign up before March 27th by searching Challenge 21 on Eventbrite or by using the link below. All those that register before this date will be entered into a draw for a weekend away for two in a four-star hotel
The centre was opened by a group of parents in 2017 who saw the need for a facility in Cork that would provide supports and services for families with young children with Down Syndrome. It also offers a great deal of support around diagnosis and early intervention which is deemed essential by those who avail of them. Currently the centre has over 120 children availing of services and has seen a significant increase in demand in recent years.
As well as the support of Cork legend Rob Heffernan, the Centre is delighted to have the backing of a main event sponsor Green Rebel Marine, a pioneering marine survey company based in Crosshaven Co. Cork. Other businesses interested in partnering on the event can contact the Centre Manager: Lisa@dsccork.ie
Find out more, register or donate on https://tinyurl.com/DSCC21