Sean Kelly launches Tour de Munster in aid of Down Syndrome

Sean Kelly officially launched the 11th Annual Tour de Munster, an annual four day charity cycle which takes place this year from Thursday, August 11 to Sunday 14. It will see 150 amateur cyclists cycle over 600km around the six counties of Munster, in aid of beneficiary Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI Munster branches).

Sean Kelly officially launched the 11th Annual Tour de Munster, an annual four day charity cycle which takes place this year from Thursday, August 11 to Sunday 14. It will see 150 amateur cyclists cycle over 600km around the six counties of Munster, in aid of beneficiary Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI Munster branches).

The launch was attended by many of the cyclists taking part this year as well as members of DSI Munster branches. MC for the evening was DSI’s Michael O’Gorman who welcomed special guest Councillor Kevin Murphy, Mayor of Cork County.

Cycling legend Sean Kelly, who will be joining the cyclists for his sixth year, stated:

“I am looking forward to joining the other cyclists for this demanding four days of cycling that is the Tour de Munster. There is always a great sense of camaraderie among the group with everyone supporting each other and I’m delighted to be cycling for Down Syndrome Ireland again too, as it’s such a worthy cause.”

The idea of the Tour de Munster fundraiser was developed by Paul Sheridan who has helped make a difference as a total of €790,000 has been raised throughout the last eleven years for different charities, helping the lives of countless people.

Paul said at the launch - “In the last ten years we have helped many different charities with this cycle. What has remained unchanged is the generosity of the Irish people, even in these challenging financial times, and the commitment of the cyclists who all cover their own costs so that every penny raised goes directly to the charity, which this year is Down Syndrome Ireland.

“I am struck every year by the support we receive on this journey around Munster, by the well wishers, the friendly faces, the welcome and the support in every city, town and village we pass. It makes this event what I believe to be the best charity cycle out there with an unsurpassed atmosphere and incredible results for the charity.”

Alan Crosbie, Executive Chairman of Thomas Crosbie Holdings, also spoke at the event - “I am delighted and pleased that so many people are putting so much effort into fundraising for Down Syndrome Ireland. It is however regrettable that funds have to be raised to pay for basics such as speech therapy for children with Down Syndrome. Our Government should be doing more to address the needs of Ireland’s children.”

Clare Leonard, President of DSI, also added that “Down Syndrome Ireland is delighted to be the beneficiary of the Tour de Munster for a second year running.

“We are all extremely grateful to Paul Sheridan and his team for their on-going support of the work of our Munster branches. All the funds raised will be put to very good use for the benefit of our members of all ages.”

Meghan O’Halloran, a 20 year old young woman with Down Syndrome, also spoke of her new job as office assistant for the Cork branch of Down Syndrome, at their offices in Centre Park Road.

Tony Scott, Sales Director of Nightline, the main sponsors of the event, also spoke during the event and Martha O’Connor, Cork Depot Manager of Nightline also attended the event.

For more up to date information and developments on the Tour please log onto www.tourdemunster.ie or you can follow the Tour on twitter @tourdemunster. For further information on Down Syndrome Ireland please see www.downsyndrome.ie

Some background on Down Syndrome Ireland

Down Syndrome Ireland is an organisation of people with Down Syndrome and their parents and guardians which was established in 1971. It has over 3,000 member families with 25 branches nationwide and is funded by voluntary contributions and events organised by its members. It is the biggest single group concerned with the welfare of people with a learning disability in Ireland. The principal aims of the association are as follows:-

* To provide a counselling service and information to parents and guardians of persons with Down syndrome, especially those with new-born babies.

* To ensure that proper and appropriate educational facilities are available to children with Down syndrome, with the realistic option of attending mainstream national schools.

* To promote research into the causes of Down syndrome, and to keep parents informed of developments taking place at home and abroad for the advancement and care of people with Down syndrome.

* To liaise with the Departments of Health and Children; Social, Community and Family Affairs; Education and Science; and Enterprise, Trade and Employment; and with other relevant authorities and national organisations.

* To provide a forum where parents and guardians can meet and exchange views and ideas.

* To establish a system of advocacy and guardianship for adults and children with Down syndrome who have lost their parents.

* The ultimate objective is the integration of people with Down syndrome into the community with full citizen’s rights as laid down in European Union directives and the United Nations charter.

Some background on the Tour De Munster

Now in its 11th year, the Tour de Munster is four-day 600km charity cycle which takes participants on a very demanding route through all the counties of Munster.

Participants collect individual sponsorship and the tour is accompanied by volunteers who hope to leverage the event with collections in the cities, towns and villages along the route.

Everyone participating in the event covers their own costs so that all funds raised through the 2011 event will go directly to the six branches of Down Syndrome Ireland in Munster.