Pam Norris, who celebrates a significant birthday this year, has decided to undertake the mammoth task of cycling the Wild Atlantic Way this summer. Here she tells the Kinsale & District Newsletter what has motivated her to cycle 2500km of Ireland's most rugged and challenging coastline:
"Because I'm so blessed to have good health at almost 70, plus a wonderful life in one of the most beautiful places in the world, with incredibly kind and caring people, I feel that I must use these gifts to the best of my ability to help those less fortunate, especially the very young and helpless. What I love about Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children International charity is that a massive amount of good work has been done with a relatively small amount of money over the 25 years I've been involved. Not a cent is wasted or allowed to be misappropriated - Adi herself doesn't take a salary and as much work as possible is done by volunteers.
For the past ten years we've been funding cardiac missions to Ukraine and Belarus, where each year thousands of children are born with the genetic heart defect known as "Chernobyl Heart". If untreated, one in three will die by the age of 5. A Flying Doctors Programme was initiated by CCI, whereby teams of cardiac surgeons fly in to carry out life-saving open heart operations on the most critically ill children, at the same time training the local medics to assist them. The surgeons give their time and skills voluntarily and CCI funds their travel expenses. In this way, each operation costs only â‚¬1000 - although each would have a real monetary value of â‚¬200,000. Thanks to the generosity of Irish people, 6500 heart operations have been carried out and huge numbers of lives have been saved. But many more babies and small children need the life-saving operations.
HOW TO SAVE MORE LIVES?
Over the coming summer, or longer if this year is a wash-out, I plan to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way - 2500 km! - to raise a minimum of â‚¬100,000. I can absolutely promise that every single euro donated will go to this Baby Heart program - I'm funding all my own expenses and my brilliant volunteer support vehicle drivers are doing the same.
The idea is to publicise the Wild Atlantic Way as well as raise the money, and to involve hotels and businesses along the route that will benefit from the publicity. I'd love to start off from Kinsale with a huge amount already donated and/or promised, and I'm asking local hotels and tourism-related businesses for substantial donations. For individual supporters there will be sponsor cards available to complete. Also, the talented local artist Dee Pieters has very kindly donated a magnificent painting of Roaring Water Bay which will be raffled in April, with only 300 tickets available at â‚¬10 each. Each and every donation will be very gratefully received, and fully accountable!
The help and encouragement so far has been really amazing, wonderful practical support plus promises of large and small donations, and I hope this will continue all the way to Derry - whenever we arrive! I must confess that I'm only a hobby cyclist and a fair-weather one at that, if it's lashing rain we'll have to wait for an improvement. Note the wet-weather gear already bought just in caseâ€¦â€¦.."
We will keep readers up to date on our website and Facebook page as well as publishing an update in our summer issue of the Kinsale & District Newsletter. You can also follow Pam's progress on her own Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cycling-for-Baby-Hearts/344522572425334
The very best of luck to you Pam!