Santas saddle up in Cork and Dublin for charity fun cycle

Old Offender Des Cahill, Lord Mayor of Cork

It’s a tale with a flavour of Tiny Tim but brightened by the goodwill of a group of surgeons, with a fun Christmas twist.

Straight Ahead, a charity founded by orthopaedic surgeons who operate pro bono on children who would otherwise remain too long on waiting lists, has organised a fun Santa cycle through the streets of Dublin and Cork tomorrow to fundraise for a paediatric orthopaedic ultrasound scanner for the Cork orthopaedic team.

However, while hundreds of Santas will light up the streets after dusk, bringing with them lashings of good cheer, there is a darker side to the story: combined figures for Crumlin Children’s Hospital and Temple St Children’s Hospital show more than 3,000 children are awaiting outpatient orthopaedic appointments, with 605 waiting more than a year. Between the two hospitals, another 1,038 are awaiting inpatient procedures, of whom 236 are waiting more than 12 months.

For some of these children, delayed surgery results in deformity and significant curvature of the spine.

Crumlin, though, got a pre-Christmas boost, with the opening just this week of a new state-of-the-art orthopaedic theatre, which Pat Kiely, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Crumlin, described as “the fastest project in HSE history”. It was mooted in 2014 and finished by spring 2016, and the first two surgeries were performed there last Thursday.

Mr Kiely said the next step is to “get it up and running five to seven days a week to catch up with the backlog”.

In the meantime, since the charity was founded in 2011, he and some fellow surgeons, nurses, and supporters have raised enough money to put 85 children through surgery.

Tomorrow’s Cork Santa cycle is fully subscribed but additional donations can be made online by clicking straightaheadireland.ie/donations/

As an added bonus, a video made with the help of the crew behind the Young Offenders movie to promote the charity cycle has gone viral, with more than 100,000 views (see shr.gs/IGXuHai). Old Offenders sees Cork Lord Mayor Des Cahill, decked out in Munster jersey, wellies, a baseball cap, and the chain of office, play a starring role.

Connie Wiseman, who also stars in the video, said since they released it “things had been a little out of control” with more than 300 sign-ups to the Cork Santa Cycle.

As of yesterday morning, funds raised through the Santa cycle amounted to €10,500, just shy of the €12,000 required to purchase the scanner.

The 7.5km Cork cycle will be setting off from outside Goldberg’s pub on Victoria Road at 7.30pm, while in Dublin proceedings get underway a little earlier at 4pm at the Phoenix Park.

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