A young girl who won a competition to design shoes for Rory McIlroy through the Cancer Fund for Children met the top golfer today at the Irish Open.
Alex Kernaghan is one of four young people affected by cancer that have sketched their way to success winning a competition to design Nike shoes that were worn by Rory McIlroy each day during the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
Across four consecutive days, winners Sara Lockhart (12) from Newtownards, Ryan Keenan (16) from Belfast, Chloe Hyndman (15) from Antrim and Alex Kernaghan (13) from Enniskillen have been invited to meet and have their photograph taken with Rory as the world watches on.
The children, all of whom have a parent affected by cancer are being supported by the Cancer Fund for Children. They designed the golf shoes at a recent residential in the charity’s Narnia log cabin in Newcastle.
The winners were chosen by Rory McIlroy and were made by Nike for Rory to wear throughout the Irish Open at Royal County Down.
As well as getting free tickets to the event, the children were also presented by Nike and The Rory Foundation with their very own pair of Nike trainers.
Alex’s shoe design is all about individuality.
“It says ‘Be You’ on my Nike shoes because that’s all you ever should be - yourself. I also added in a bit of blue as it’s my dad’s favourite colour and yellow to represent the charity,” said Alex.
Chloe, who has been supported by the Cancer Fund for Children since she was 12 years-old, said: “My design is a combination of what I would wear and what I thought Rory would like.
"It was great fun designing them and a privilege to be a part of the whole process but I never thought I would win – I’m delighted!”
Ryan said his green and white design was “Inspired by the Irish Open”. “Designing the Nike shoes was great fun and I really enjoyed the chance to relax and meet new people at the residential.”
Sara did her research before beginning her design.
“I read online that Rory really likes different shades of green so I combined that with some of my favourite colours," said Sara.
"I really love art and am so happy my design was chosen,” she said.
Rory McIlroy was pleased with the designs and lloked forward to wearing them throughout the Open.
“I’m delighted the young people associated with the Cancer Fund for Children got to design my shoes. It really was such a tough decision to pick the four winning designs," the golfer said.
"I’m really pleased with the effort and attention to detail everyone put in.”
Cancer Fund for Children’s Residential Specialist, Marty Pelan facilitated the shoe design session
“When I told the children they were going to be designing shoes for a golfing superstar their faces just lit up," said Mr Phelan.
Words cannot describe what it meant to them and how excited they were – it was great to see and a fantastic thing to be involved with,” he said.
“This was a great opportunity for the children we support and a welcome distraction from the reality of having to cope with a loved one living with cancer," said Gillian Creevy, CEO of the Cancer Fund for Children.
"Rory McIlroy and The Rory Foundation is an important part of what we are doing today and what we will do tomorrow. We are grateful and proud to work alongside them.”