Cycling legend Sean Kelly hopes to help break the Tour de Munster’s €2m fundraising target for Down Syndrome Ireland by the weekend.
Kelly, 59, one of most successful road cyclists of the 1980s and one of the finest classics riders of all time, led more than 100 cyclists off from Waterford’s City Hall yesterday morning on the 600km four-day tour.
They will visit the province’s six counties before rolling into Cork on Sunday morning.
Kelly is an avid supporter of Tour de Munster and will cycle with the group for the entire tour, which hopes to cover about 150km a day.
The event, which is now in its 15th year but which has been raising funds for Down Syndrome Ireland for the last five years, has raked in a staggering €1.5m for DSI alone in that time.
However, organisers said they are hopeful that they can break the €2m mark by the end of the Tour this weekend.
Down Syndrome Ireland chief executive Pat Clarke and Tony Scott, the sales director of the event’s main sponsor, Nightline, waved cyclists off yesterday.
“Seeing all the families and friends of DSI here today reminds us all why we need to keep fundraising for the fantastic and inspirational people involved in all our Munster branches,” said Mr Clarke.
“It’s vital that the money raised through the cycle goes a long way towards ensuring all our members get the best possible support.”
Tour organiser Paul Sheridan praised cyclists, who cover their own costs, for taking on the demanding challenge.
“The commitment is not just for four days, but for the weeks and months beforehand, so seeing friendly faces and receiving warm welcomes from all corners of the province make the sacrifice so worthwhile,” he said.
“Having new participants each year brings new life to the cycle and helps spur in the cyclists to complete their spirited journey.
“They are united in their common goal of finishing the tour and raising as much money as possible through individual sponsorships, as well as the bucket collections which will take place over all stages of the tour.”
The event is supported by the Irish Examiner, Clare FM, Tipp FM, Red FM, and WLR FM.
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