Colin Farrell meets Special Olympics in China


Hollywood star says Special Olympics movement is “close to his heart”

Hollywood actor, Colin Farrell has called on people across Northern Ireland to dig deep in support of the Special Olympics Ireland annual Collection Day today (Friday, 24th April).

Colin Farrell meets Special Olympics in China

Every penny counts for the sports charity as it seeks to raise a massive £360,000 across Ireland and £75,000 in the Ulster region today. Some 500 volunteers will take to the streets in towns and cities across Northern Ireland, as part of a massive total of 3,500 volunteers across Ireland.

38-year-old Farrell is a big advocate of the charity and the opportunities it offers athletes with intellectual disabilities. The actor has been a high profile ambassador since the Special Olympics World Games were held in Dublin in 2003. To promote this year’s Collection Day, which is supported by eircom, Farrell made a short home video in which he candidly explains what Special Olympics means to him.

In the video, filmed in Los Angeles – where 88 Team Ireland Special Olympics athletes will travel to compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games this summer – Farrell encourages people to get behind the charity, which provides sporting opportunities to athletes with intellectual disabilities.

“If anyone remembers in 2003 when our country hosted the Special Olympics World Games and we gave accommodation and shelter to athletes from all over the world in various towns around the whole country. It was an amazing experience for the whole country and everyone was supportive and got behind it. And there was such a sense of community about it, and not just a sense of optimism, but hope.

“It is an incredible thing what Special Olympics does and it is an amazing opportunity for the athletes involved to be recognised for striving to realise the fullest of their potential…It is a really worth cause and one that is very close to my heart and I believe close to the hearts of the people of Ireland as was demonstrated in 2003.”

The actor and father of two has urged people to dig deep this Collection Day and donate whatever money they can, stressing that the every single penny counts.

Collection Day  (3)

Special Olympics is committed to developing their services, so that every person with an intellectual disability has the option of joining a club in their local community. With over 2,000 registered athletes participating in 15 sports in 86 clubs around the Ulster region, every donation makes a difference to the lives of athletes and their families.

The funds donated on Collection Day go directly to developing the grass roots programme of sport training and competition for athletes.  Over the course of a four-year cycle athletes can progress to being in contention for selection for World Games.

“So, Friday the 24th of April is the Collection Day,” Farrell said. “There will be volunteers all over the country in pubs, and clubs, and shopping centres and outside the cinema and annoying and heckling you for whatever you can afford,” he joked. “But, please, give all that you can. I know times are tough, and wallets can be tight, but it’s a great cause. So with all of this in mind, give all that you can.”

This is a massive year for Special Olympics and its athletes, with 88 athletes – including 12 from the Ulster region – preparing to travel to Los Angeles to compete at the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Their selection comes after four years of training and competition. The World Games will take place in LA from 25th July until 2nd August.

The Los Angeles based actor is hopeful that he will be present to cheer on Team Ireland come World Games time.  “It’s a really great thing and they’re representing Ireland and it’s huge,” he said. “I’m here in Los Angeles and hopefully I will be here and won’t have to go to work and that will mean I can be a part of it, and see all of the Irish athletes and I’ll be excited by that myself.”

Commenting ahead of Collection Day, Shaun Cassidy, regional director, Special Olympics Ulster said; “It is fantastic to have the support of a film star like Colin Farrell for Collection Day. This is our biggest annual fundraising event, so it is hugely important to us.

“Every donation we receive on April 24th will help us to continue to change the lives of people with an intellectual disability throughout Northern Ireland. With your help, we can all give our athletes a winning chance.”

2015 also marks another milestone for Special Olympics Ireland as it celebrates 30 years of partnership with long-standing corporate supporter eircom.

Carolan Lennon, managing director of eircom Wholesale added:This year is a milestone year for eircom and Special Olympics as we celebrate 30 years of partnership. Every person with an intellectual disability has the opportunity to avail of the support of Special Olympics Ulster, to develop new skills, make new friends and become the best they can be – the benefits of this can’t be underestimated for both athletes and their families.”

 Colin Farrell meets Spectal Olympics in China

Collections will take place in towns and cities across Northern Ireland today. In Belfast, volunteers will be out in force in a variety of locations including Castle Court, Tesco Yorkgate, George Best Belfast City Airport, Central Station, Great Victoria Street Bus Station, Great Victoria Street, Castle Place, Donegal Place, Belfast Harbour Estate, Kennedy Centre, Sprucefield Retail Park,  Botanic Station, Central Station, Kingspan Stadium, St. Georges Market and Victoria Square.

In addition to putting money in buckets on Collection Day, Donations can be made online at

Help spread the word: Twitter handle @SO_Ulster & @SOIreland, using hashtag, #CollectionDay or Search Facebook for Special Olympics Ulster.

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