PAT Kearns, chief-organiser of the Croagh Patrick Challenge, has said he is absolutely delighted Mayo Autism Action has been granted €50,000 from the National Lottery and the Department of Health, just three weeks after the organisation celebrated raising more than €500,000.
Speaking to The Mayo News on Friday after the recent annual Croagh Patrick Seven Day Challenge Awards night Kearns said, “It’s the best Christmas present of all that we could have got”.
He said the funding will be instrumental in assisting the running of the Áthas school in Kiltimagh where Mayo Autism Action is based.
Mayo Autism Action was founded by a group of families who were concerned at the lack of facilities for their children, particularly in the educational area. Castlebar DJ Johnny Oosten, in response to the needs of nine-year old Jordan Kearns, son of Pat Kearns, came up with the idea of the Croagh Patrick Challenge and the initiative has flourished ever since.
Both Oosten’s and Kearns’ collaborative efforts and the heartfelt and generous response from within the region have ensured that €534,000 has been raised for Mayo Autism Action in just five years. This year the Croagh Patrick Challenge raised a phenomenal €113,000.
Despite this remarkable achievement Kearns said that keeping the Áthas school going has been challenging in such difficult economic times and this additional funding will go a long way.
The Croagh Patrick Challenge is the heartbeat of this fundraising and Kearns said he would like to thank everybody who has been involved with the initiative during the past five years. He said he was delighted with how the seven-day climb went, despite some safety concerns in the opening days as treacherous weather conditions proved hazardous. Due to the challenging conditions next year’s event will take place in May 2012.
Concluding Kearns said that a re-launch for the Croagh Patrick Challenge is likely to take place next February or March and he hopes to build on the resounding success of recent years. He saved special words of thanks for his colleague Johnny Oosten who is stepping down from his organising role after an incredible five years of work on the event.