Special Olympics Ireland 2021 Highlights

21 Dec 2021

2021 was another whirlwind of a year with lots of highs across the Special Olympics community. We have prepared a highlights video showing the best of the last 12 months. There was so much amazing activity over the past year, we couldn’t fit it all into the video but we have listed other key activities below!

In 2021, you helped the following happen:

  • Young Athletes across the country showed us how you can train and have fun at home. They don’t take no for an answer- even with clubs closed they completed 10 weeks of fun-filled activities!
  • The Let’s Run programme, in association with Gala Retail, coached over 250 athletes to run for 30mins or complete a 5km run. They weren’t the only ones who hit the pavement and clocked the kilometres. 120 volunteers also signed up for this fitness frenzy supporting the athletes as they trained and prepared for the final event.
  • After all the training and goal smashing it was high time for an awards ceremony. Radio presenter Ian Dempsey, sports broadcaster Jacqui Hurley, and soccer legend Robbie Keane all lined up to congratulate everyone who competed in our second ever Virtual Competitions. Over 1,000 medals were awarded to athletes across the country.
  • The last two years have shown Special Olympics athletes are made of strong stuff, for Collection Day 2021 it would take a BIG achievement to match that determination and Can’t Stop Now spirit. Brian Maher, 98FM DJ and endurance sport fanatic stepped up to the plate. Brian completed a 24hr runathon and raised over €33,000 for Special Olympics Ireland!
  • Two new Board Members were elected at the AGM which was virtual again this year. We welcome Donal Courtney and Dr Brendan O’Brien. We would also like to wish our colleagues, Proinsias Kitt, and Mary Lally, well as they retired from the Board this year, having served a maximum of six years of fantastic service to the organisation.
  • We were ecstatic to launch our very first Special Olympics Volunteer Awards! Over 55 volunteers across three categories with nominated. Out of all the amazing stories three stood out as clear winners. Congratulations Brian McGuigan, Anne McCartan and David O’Brien for taking home the inaugural awards.
  • The eir staff challenge continues to grow in popularity and is thriving as a virtual event. This year a record 594 staff members running 5k in aid of Special Olympics Ireland, raising an amazing €48,585 for our Young Athlete Programme™.
  • The Health Promotion programme extends far beyond physical health. To help support this mission we appointed a team of Health Messengers, athletes who have been trained as  health and wellness leaders, educators, advocates and role models within their Special Olympics clubs and the wider community. We can’t wait to see what they have instore in 2022!
  • Polar Plunge was back with a splash in 2021! Former Ireland striker Stephanie Roche met with athletes Edel Armstrong, Eoin and Lorcan Tully to test the sea waters ahead of our most popular fundraisers!
  • 10 Special Olympics Clubs displayed some outstanding Can’t Stop Now spirit and bagged themselves a €500 cash prize in the Gala Gifts for Clubs initiative.
  • 2021 was the year of blended activity, we haven’t packed away the screens and virtual sessions completely but there are lots of clubs across the country lacing up their runners and packing their water bottles (and masks!) before heading off to in-person training. Operation Let’s Get Back is in full swing as over 131 Special Olympics clubs have returned to activity. We’re looking forward to seeing this number grow in the new year as we support clubs across the country get back to what they do best!