If you wonder what the impact of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle has on the charities it supports, you only have to ask those involved with the Valentia Island Community Hospital. “The Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle represents to Valentia Community Hospital a future, an opportunity and a sense of hope. When we were given this chance to be involved, there was huge pressure on our hospital to diversify and extend. Due to the economic situation in the country and in the area, we found ourselves looking around us wondering where would we start,” says Marie O’Neill of Valentia Community Hospital.
The hospital, which has been in operation since 1870, were beneficiaries from our fundraising event in both 2014 and 2015 and have expressed how funding was essential for their survival. The hospital was in dire need of an extension which is why they applied to be one the cycle’s main charities.
“We applied to be involved with the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle to raise funds for extending the hospital from a 16-bed facility to a 24-bed facility in 2013. Through the cycle, over €400,000 has been contributed to our development which is a massive boost to the hospital and south Kerry in general,” Marie added.
And while the funds were vitally important to this extension, which is currently underway, O’Neill points out that the cycle also brought the community together. “People that hadn’t cycled since they were kids were suddenly out training, myself included. The cycle got people involved that would never have done something like this before and it gave us all a sense of togetherness.”
Marie adds that the impact of the charity’s involvement has made what seemed like the impossible, possible. “When we were chosen, we could never have imagined the success which came our way. To raise €100,00 would have been a massive achievement. But to come away at the end of two years with nearly half of the funds for a €1 million euro project is truly mind blowing! Even though it gave so much more than financial reward, it lifted our community and created hope and a sense of optimism about the future.”
But in a broader sense, what does O’Neill think the cycle does for Kerry as a county? “I think this cycle represents so many things to this county. Having met and spoken to so many people from around Ireland and beyond, it really is a ‘one of a kind’ event on so many levels. After I cycled it in 2014, the Ring of Kerry Committee produced a video clip summing the day up from early morning to completing it. I can still remember the first time I watched this clip and feeling an immense pride in myself for my own personal achievement of cycling it and then in this county in being such a picturesque and beautiful location to host this type of event.”
“The Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle is a remarkable event on so many levels and it is a tribute to the committee and all the organisers. The amount of positive feedback we have received as a charity from cyclists and volunteers alike and, of course, the ongoing demand for places in this event is a testament to the cycle. Its popularity is international at this stage and it showcases the very beautiful Ring of Kerry to a tee! I hope the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle continues into the future and affords other charities the help and support we were so lucky to receive.”