The 218km cycle, which is being done to raise funds to help 35-year old Sligo native Claire Carpenter, will see both Connacht Rugby staff and members of clubs from throughout the province travel from The Sportsground in Galway to Sligo Rugby Club.
About Claire and Ross
Claire is the partner of Connacht staff member Ross Mannion. Earlier this year, the mother of three suffered a stroke in her home in Coolaney, Co Sligo.
After being rushed to the ICU unit of Beaumont Hospital, she was placed in an induced coma for over a week following a life-saving operation. Claire is now thankfully on the road to recovery, however significant funds need to be raised for her rehabilitation.
The idea behind the cycle is to help raise these funds and allow Claire to continue her rehabilitation, and eventually lead an independent life at home with her family.
A story that struck a chord with many
One of the club members taking part in the cycle is Patrick Curran. He is the U20s head coach with Galwegians.
After hearing about the cause, he was eager to help in whatever way he could. He said: “Claire and Ross’ story struck a chord with me. Anyone of us could end up in their position, so I’m just happy to be able to help in some little way”.
All of the cyclists shared that sentiment, with Carrick On Shannon’s Ciarán McBrien stating that he is more than happy to challenge himself for such a worthy cause.
He said: “I saw the original GoFundMe link months ago and it hit a chord with me as I have a young family too. I donated and kind of forgot about it. Then the cycle initiative was mentioned and something told me this was something I could do to show my support.”
The rugby community
Discussing the event with club representatives, it is clear that the rugby community around Connacht are eager to help in any way that they can.
Dunmore Rugby Club’s James Murphy typified this togetherness.
He said: “When I read Claire’s story, I thought of Ross having given his time to come and train us a few years back and I immediately wanted to give something to this cause”
Damien Meehan, from Claremorris Rugby Club was another who was keen to mention the togetherness the community has shown.
He said: “I think the rugby community is amazing. What they are doing for Claire and (her) loved ones shows this. I was delighted to be asked to be a part of this.”
Make a massive difference
David Connolly, the Director of Rugby at Buccaneers, is another who will be making the arduous journey from Galway to Sligo. He added: “I was delighted to offer to help out. Hopefully we can raise a good few quid for a very good cause”.
Mark Glynn, who plays as a winger for Loughrea, had a family member who saw the benefits of rehabilitation and was inspired to take part in the cycle.
He said: “I’ve seen how if a person gets the right help and rehabilitation it makes a massive difference to their recovery. Hopefully we can raise enough money to help Clare and her family”.
If you would like to help Claire, then you can donate via this link.
Come out and support
You can come out and support the event along the way, as the cyclists will be stopping at a number of locations. Their stops are Ballinrobe RFC, Frenchpark, Carrick-on-Shannon and Coolaney Community Park, with players from both the men’s and women’s senior teams available for autograph opportunities and to take photographs with.
The cycle itself will conclude in Sligo RFC, where Julian Rippon is a former coach and player.
Julian, who will also be taking part in the journey, said he didn’t need to think twice when he first heard about the cycle. He added that he is “wishing Claire a speedy recovery and Ross for being so strong in this difficult time”.
Prior to the stroke, Claire and Ross were planning their wedding which had already been postponed twice. It has now been put on hold again as they focus on Claire’s health and wellbeing.
They are a family who have gone through more than most of us can imagine in the past number of months. It is hoped that via this event, as well as other initiatives, that they can raise the money needed to fund Claire’s rehabilitation and allow them to start planning for the future again.