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Step By Step Challenge Raises €29,300 for new Talk To Tom Arklow Centre

A fitness challenge involving over 23 Wicklow clubs has raised a staggering €29,300 for Talk To Tom.

The 24-hour 'Step by Step Challenge' saw clubs from across the garden county join forces to help raise funds for our new Arklow centre.

The fundraiser also raised vital awareness, highlighting Talk To Tom's services to a whole new group of people.

Some 11-people experiencing a personal crisis made direct contact with Talk To Tom, having learned of the service through the event.

Talk To Tom CEO Ray Cullen said that 11 people from the county had contacted the service over the weekend on foot of the awareness raised by the challenge.

Of these 11, two required immediate intervention and have received the required help.

"It was phenomenal. No one could believe the response. Apart from the difference it will make to the centre in Arklow and getting it finished to a high standard there was also the awareness raised," said Ray.

Around 32 people from Wicklow are currently using the services provided by the Gorey charity. Mr Cullen expressed his intention to mark the success of the Step by Step challenge within the new centre, which will be located on Arklow's Main Street.

Ballymanus GAA decided to hold the 24-hour step challenge on May 1 and 2. Orla Tyrrell, who is the driving force behind the fundraiser, invited other clubs in the area to take part and received a huge response.

Ms Tyrrell said the pain of losing her brother at a young age through suicide has made her determined to help others who are struggling.

"On Dec 27th 1998, life, as we knew, would never be the same. Colin our 19-year-old brother, took his life that day," said Ms Tyrell.

"Anger was my first emotion; how could he do it? How could he have left us all here? The pain, sadness and darkness in the weeks, months and years to follow is a time I will never forget," she added.

Event Organiser Orla Tyrrell

"In recent years, the family always participated in the Darkness Into Light event, always with Colin in mind.

"With covid in May 2020, Pieta started a virtual darkness into light. We at my local club, Ballymanus Gaa thought this would be a great idea, everyone was fed up of lockdown and were looking forward to getting a bit of buzz into the club on the day. The club signed up and raised €8000.

"In March 2021 the subject of redoing the walk came up again, and I asked the question, how much of our €8000 was spent locally and how many people in crisis did it help locally? We guessed very little.

"I had read in the local paper about Talk to Tom opening a centre in Arklow, I looking at their website and contacted Ray Cullen CEO of the charity. Their incredible selfless work blew me away and I knew there and then they were the perfect fit for us. We decided we were going to do our walk this year for them," added the tireless campaigner.

Children from Ballymanus GAA Club, Wicklow

"I said I'd ask a few of our neighbouring clubs would they be interested in coming on board, and the response was unbelievable. We done up a promotional video and it snowballed from there. By May 1st we had 23 clubs including ourselves signed up to walk 24hrs for this amazing charity.

"And what a day it was, club flags were flying, candles were lighting, Facebook was lit with hundreds of smiling faces of all ages doing their bit. An unbelievable €29,300 was raised.

"Never in our wildest dreams did we think we'd reach that amount.

"Ray called me the next day to tell me that he'd received 11 calls that day from people in the Wicklow area, two of whom were in immediate crisis and were now safe.

"For me, that was the icing on the cake, on Saturday May 1st 2021 we played some part in saving two peoples lives,

"It made every single step we took worth it."

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