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Charity fundraising still a marathon effort after negative publicity

Eoin Casey will run the marathon for the first time this Sunday for a very special cause.

Eoghan Casey and his Dad Eoin.
Eoghan Casey and his Dad Eoin.
Image: Down Syndrome Centre

TRAINING FOR A marathon is difficult enough, but it’s made even more so when you’ve to juggle it with running your own company and keeping up with two kids under the age of three.

Not that Eoin Casey is complaining. For the 35-year old who runs his own electrical business, it just means getting up a little earlier and having to explain to clients why he’s limping a bit.

Running is relatively new to Casey. He only started about a year ago as a way of coping with stress after his first son, Eoghan, was born. Eoghan has Down Syndrome.

“I downloaded one of those Couch to 5k apps,” he told TheScore.ie this week “and it was a bit of a shock to the system when I went out for a run for the first time.

“I think I was out of breath after 30 seconds,” he jokes.

However, despite those humble beginnings, Casey stuck with it and 30 seconds became three minutes, three minutes became three miles and, this year, it’s about to become 42 kilometres for the first time when he takes part in the Dublin City Marathon.

But while Casey – originally from Durrow in Co. Laois but now living in Dublin – started running for personal reasons, October’s race will be for Eoghan and the Down Syndrome Centre, one of this year’s official charities.

“I’d been thinking of doing a marathon for a while and I was on the site one night and saw the Down Syndrome Centre there as one of the official charities and thought it as a sign so I signed up for it there and then.

“My wife (Gillian) and I had been looking around for some support after Eoghan was born. We were looking to see what was out there for us as parents and for kids with Down Syndrome.

“Gillian came across the Down Syndrome Centre at a talk and that’s how we got to know them. We’ve been big supporters ever since and Eoghan was even featured in their charity calendar last year.”

l-r, Sean Hehir, Eoghan Casey, Eoin Casey_1 Eoghan Casey helps Sean Hehir and Eoin Casey with their training. Source: Down Syndrome Centre

This is the Down Syndrome Centre’s first venture into the world of fundraising through marathon running but it’s a much needed foray given that donations to all charities are still suffering from the negative publicity of recent months.

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“We get no government funding whatsoever,” says Sharon Dagg, CEO of the Down Syndrome Centre, “so rely completely on the general public and corporate donations.

“We’ve done really well to get the centre open but it’s going to be a big battle to keep it going. With so much bad publicity about charity, people are understandably reluctant.”

That struggle for support stretches to the marathon this year, with Dagg admitting it’s a tough sell given the effort involved in training and preparing for the race. She hopes that hearing Casey’s story will inspire people already taking part in this year’s race to run and raise funds on behalf of the centre.

“It’s a hard one to sell to people because it’s such a big challenge but you need to be extremely fit. At the moment we’ve only about 20 people doing it but we’re hoping to get as many people as possible.

“Anyone who runs the marathon for the Down Syndrome Centre will get a ‘golden ticket’ giving them priority access to facilities before and after the race,” she adds.

To keep the centre open – including all its facilities such as language and occupational therapies – and provide an all-encompassing service for parents and children with Down Syndrome that will allow them develop the skills needed to attend mainstream primary school, will cost around €500,000 per year.

“We’ve a very good volunteer structure in place and that helps but the services we provide – which bridge the gap in government services – do cost money so if we’re to continue to provide them, we need to raise funds through the support of individuals and organisations.

So far, Eoin Casey raised just short of €600 but he’s hoping to make as much as he can for the Down Syndrome Centre to protect the vital services it provides his son.

With 50 days to go, there’s still plenty to time to achieve that.

Information on running the Dublin City Marathon on behalf of the Down Syndrome Centre can be found on the poster below.

You can visit Eoin Casey’s fundraising page here.

Source: Down Syndrome Centre

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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