~ Ulster based Team Ireland Special Olympics athletes, coaches & volunteers start countdown for LA2015 with special reception hosted by US Consul General ~
Ulster based Team Ireland athletes received a major boost to their preparations for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles (LA2015) this week, with a special reception hosted by the US Consul General in Belfast.
The special event, which took place on Thursday (18th June 2015) at the residence of Consul General, Gregory S. Burton honoured local athletes, coaches and families going to LA2015 next month, as well as thanking the corporate partners and volunteers that have supported Team Ireland through various fundraising efforts.
A number of ambassadors and supporters including former British and Irish Lion, Trevor Ringland and members of the Belfast Giants management team were also in attendance to wish the Ulster based Team Ireland athletes well.
Twelve local athletes will compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles 2015 (LA2015): Christopher Kane, aged 19, from Lisburn and Peter Fitzpatrick, aged 19 from Ballynahinch, Co. Down (5-a side football); Carole Catling, aged 37 from Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim (table tennis); Kirsty Devlin, aged 20 from Belfast and Patrick Quinlivan, aged 32 from Letterkenny, Co. Donegal (gymnastics); Oliver Doherty, aged 38 from Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Jill Connery, aged 29 from Scarva, Co. Armagh & playing partner, Ursula McDonnell, aged 71 from Belfast (all golf); Sarah Jane Johnston, aged 35 from Lurgan, Co. Armagh (aquatics); Déarbháil Savage, aged 14 from Mowhan, Co. Armagh (equestrian); Sean Campbell, aged 30 from Coleraine (ten pin bowling); and Nuala Browne, aged 38 from Strabane, Co. Tyrone (kayaking).
This is a massive year for Special Olympics Ireland, with 88 athletes –including the 12 from Ulster – preparing to travel to Los Angeles to compete as part of Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Their selection comes after four years of training and competition. The World Games will take place in L.A. from 25th July until 2nd August 2015.
Special Olympics Ireland needs to raise £360,000 (€440,000) to send Team Ireland to the World Games this summer. Companies and businesses across Ireland are being called upon to get behind the Support an Athlete fundraising campaign to help raise the necessary funds.
Speaking at the event Shaun Cassidy, Regional Director, Special Olympics Ulster said: “It was a real privilege for our local Team Ireland athletes to attend this special reception, hosted by the US Consul General as the countdown for LA2015 gets under way. The athletes’ training efforts are really stepping up now. It’s a very exciting time for the team, as they prepare to compete on a World stage this summer.
“We are also delighted to have the opportunity to pay tribute to our LA2015 volunteers and corporate partners that have given so generously to support our athletes; without their help we simply would not be able to send our athletes to the World Games.
“With less than five weeks until Team Ireland sets off for Los Angeles in July, we still have a way to go to reach our target of €440,000/£360,000 and I would encourage as many companies as possible to get behind Team Ireland in the run up to the Games. Full details of our Support an Athlete campaign are available at specialolympics.ie”
The reception event was one of the US Consul General’s last official duties in Northern Ireland before he heads back to Washington DC this summer.
Speaking at the event, US Consul General Gregory S. Burton said: “We are proud to host these inspirational Special Olympics Ulster athletes, coaches, volunteers and supporters and wish them well at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles next month. To have the opportunity to represent your country on the world stage is a real honour and we wish all of the participants all the very best.”
Help spread the word: Connect with Special Olympics Ireland on @SOIreland & @SO_Ulster or search Facebook for Special Olympics Ireland. Share your support using the hashtags, #TeamIreland #LA2015 & #SupportanAthlete
For further information on how you can Support local Special Olympics athletes heading to LA2015 visitwww.specialolympics.ie/supportanathlete or call John Kivlahan on 028 9089 2996.