Former World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Rob Heffernan has donated running gear to an initiative that aims to bring together those living in direct provision with the wider Irish community through sport.
The non-profit running group Sanctuary Runners, established in February 2018, is already operating in eight locations around the country. It is planning to have a team of 300, including 75 people living in direct provision centres, participating in this year's Cork City Marathon.
The group has been helped out by a significant donation from Rob and his wife Marian, also a former athlete and coach. The Heffernans presented a collection of running gear, including items of clothing used during their time representing Ireland on the world stage.
"I’m delighted to link up with the Sanctuary Runners again. Last year I took a training session with the team as they prepared for the Cork City Marathon. I met wonderful people coming together in solidarity,” Rob said.
Now I have given some of the running gear I’ve amassed over the years to the Sanctuary Runners and I know it will be of use to the runners in direct provision.
"Throughout my professional career, I met with people from across the globe and was always treated with decency and respect. We, as Irish people, should always treat others with that same warmth."
Graham Clifford, founder of the Sanctuary Runners, thanked the Heffernans for their donation.
"For so many in direct provision, hope, motivation and focus can disappear and isolation and depression can set in.
The Sanctuary Runners aim to combat that, to put our arms around the shoulders of our friends in direct provision and show that we are all one, all equal.
"The pillars of what we do are solidarity, friendship and respect," Mr Clifford said.
The Sanctuary Runners are actively looking for people to join us for this year’s Cork City Marathon. Runners can partake in the full or half marathon or as part of a relay team.
And afterwards, the Sanctuary Runners will hold a street party in the city centre.