In 2015, to mark her birthday 70th birthday, Pam Norris, Kinsale, undertook an ambitious venture to raise money for Chernobyl Children International (CCI). Pam completed a gruelling 2,500km cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way to raise much-needed funding for the Children of Chernobyl who suffer with a congenital heart defect.
Pam’s ‘Cycle for Baby Hearts’ raised an incredible €100,000 for life-saving treatment for children born with a condition known as ‘Chernobyl Heart’. Thirty-four years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a new generation is still affected by radiation.
From her hometown of Kinsale, Pam cycled the route of the Wild Atlantic Way through West Cork and along the western seaboard to the Northwest and into Derry.
Four times a year CCI sends a team of surgeons to Ukraine to perform surgery on babies and children born with congenital heart defects as a result of the devastating Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The heart has been identified as the organ most vulnerable to the effects of radiation and through the Cardiac Programme, CCI has saved the lives of over 4,000 children in Belarus and Ukraine. Due to the ‘Chernobyl Legacy’ the devastating effects of the nuclear disaster are evident across generations. Many children suffering with a congenital heart defect because of Chernobyl would die within 3 to 5 years, were it not for CCI’s intervention.
Pam has always loved cycling and being outdoors, but readily admitted that the task she undertook was an arduous one.
At the time, Pam said “I was reasonably fit before I decided to do this but, in recent weeks, I have been doing more intensive training, including leg-strengthening exercises. I swim every day and also walk the dog daily.”
The fearless pensioner said she achieved an average of 60km-70km a day and while she did cycle on her own, a support vehicle was nearby in case of any emergencies.
“I was determined to do it one way or another. Thinking of the children’s little faces and knowing that their lives depended on me completing this tough task was what kept me going” she said. “It was a daunting mission, but one I felt compelled to do.”
Pam started her epic cycle on April 24th 2015, which marked the 29th anniversary of the disaster.
A presentation to recognise and honour Pam’s outstanding achievement of raising the phenomenal €100,000 took place in CCI’s head office in Cork, with voluntary CEO, Adi Roche, on Thursday September 17th.
Pam raised money through sponsorship from individuals and companies, along with raffles and auctions. The final cents to make up a grand total of €100,000 arrived earlier this year, but due to COVID19 restrictions, the presentation could not take place until now.
Pam was the leader of CCI’s Kinsale Outreach Group and hundreds of children from Chernobyl received much needed rest and recuperation throughout the Kinsale area.
CCI voluntary CEO Adi Roche said: “The people of Kinsale have been involved with us for more than 30 years and they’ve been fantastic. Pam is a shining example of real compassion, commitment, and dedication. She leaves an enduring legacy and shows us all that age is no deterrent and one person can truly make a difference!”
Well done Pam, we are very proud of you in Kinsale.