An inspirational Killarney teenager, who sustained serious injuries in a cycle accident last year, has been included as a beneficiary of this year’s Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle.

Ian O’Connell, 16, who is currently undergoing rehabilitation at the National Rehabilitation Centre, Dun Laoghaire, is due to return home soon where his ongoing and lengthy rehabilitation programme will continue. Ian suffered damage to his neck and spine after falling from his bike while cycling with friends in the Muckross area of Killarney National Park, on August 16 last.

Money raised in the Ring of Kerry Cycle will be lodged to the Ian O’Connell Trust set up by the Spa Club. The fund, administered by three trustees, will help meet his ongoing needs and the cost of any necessary adaptations to his home.

Jim Gleeson, who spearheaded that campaign, said they were extremely grateful to the Ring of Kerry Cycle for making Ian a beneficiary and urged as many cyclists as possible to take part in support.

“The Spa club’s campaign was very generously supported. Like so many people, the organisers of the Ring of Kerry Cycle have also been moved by Ian’s story and we’re now looking for as many fundraisers as possible to cycle on his behalf,” Jim said. He added, “Ian is inspirational, and his attitude is very positive. He’s also in regular contact with his peers and this is invaluable to him.”

Before his accident Ian was working in the Killarney Park Hotel and his colleagues there are dusting off their bikes and donning their lycra to support their friend and colleague for this year’s cycle.

Niamh O’Shea, General Manager commented, “We were devasted last August when Ian was injured, but since then Ian has inspired us with his amazing positivity, the words “I can’t” do not exist for Ian, and we are taking on board his “can do” attitude, we hope others will join us!”

The Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle is a non-profit organisation of everyday people who come together every year to make a powerful difference to the lives of thousands of people in need across our local communities. Over the past 35 years, almost €15 million has been raised for 150 charity organisations through the annual support of participating cyclists and volunteers. Outside essential costs to run the 175 km Ring of Kerry charity cycle, all funds raised go directly to carefully selected charity organisations and have contributed towards new hospital extensions, special needs facilities, care for the elderly, suicide prevention, sea and mountain rescue, cancer, kidney and end of life support and much more.