Brendan Maher says "huge funds" are needed to support people with Down syndrome.
Speaking on TV3’s Ireland AM recently, primary school teacher Maher said he is a “big advocate” of DSI.
Maher mentioned his involvement with DSI in Tipperary and also spoke about working with children at an ASD unit the past three years.
Maher said it’s “insulting” to refer to someone with Down syndrome or autism as “disabled”. He said society needs to make more of an effort to accommodate people with special needs.
This year’s cycle, taking place from Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th September, will cover 600 km over four days.
The challenge gives cyclists the chance to cycle with Irish Tour de France and Giro D’italia legend Stephen Roche over the four days. The route traverses Leinster and will take in some amazing scenery along the way.
Funds raised from Tour de Leinster will be spent locally and help with the funding shortfall to run the Early Intervention Development Programme for approximately 50 local pre-school children with Down syndrome. Early intervention specialists call to the homes of the children for two sessions a month during the school term. They provide therapy in a play situation and cover many aspects such as motor skills, hand eye coordination, speech and language, singing and coordination.
Maher said “huge funds are needed” to have such programmes in place for people with Down syndrome.
“Over 90 per cent of the funds that DSI come up with is fundraised. It’s huge figures. Without the support of the country and the people that's not going to be possible,” Maher added.
Each participant will cover their own costs, so all funds raised from Tour de Leinster will go directly towards DSI to help support essential services in the participating Leinster branches.
“I am delighted to be part of this fantastic event for Down Syndrome Ireland once again,” said Stephen Roche at the launch of Tour de Leinster 2017.
“The Tour de Leinster is a magnificent cycling challenge, it's so well organised and you get amazing support from people with Down syndrome and their families along the way.
“I look forward to meeting many of the friends I made last year and to a very enjoyable four days of cycling,” Roche added.
A registration fee of €190 is required from each cyclist to participate in the event. This fee covers two Tour de Leinster jerseys, refreshment stops, fully experienced support crew including outriders and medics, luggage vans and a Sunday evening homecoming reception.
Each cyclist also covers their own hotel cost of €195 which includes three nights bed and breakfast with evening meals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. The total cost of participation including registration and accommodation is €385 per person. Each cyclist is required to raise a minimum of €500 in sponsorship for DSI.
Visit www.downsyndrome.ie or call 01-4266500 for more information.