By Sarah Laverty
SUNDAY July 22 saw a number of participants set out on a 26 mile walk to raise funds for the Ballymoney Special Olympics Swimming Club.
Amber Getty, niece of the club’s manager Sally Martin, organised the walk along the coast between Portstewart and Carrick-a-rede.
Amber told the Times: “The club has been running under my aunt’s watchful eye ever since 2005 and currently has approximately 30 members with five full time volunteers who give up their time every Saturday from 10am - noon in term time to support and teach the adults and children to swim.’
Meeting weekly in the Joey Dunlop Centre the club also encourages young people to volunteer as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award. Some have enjoyed it so much that they carried on after their expected time.
Amber added: “For many this is an opportunity they may otherwise not get.’
Keeping the club running requires not only time and dedication; it also requires funding.
Amber said: “Although it’s under the Special Olympics name it has to raise the majority of funds for itself. This has to cover the costs of renting the pool, training for the leaders, uniforms for the swimmers and leaders, awards and transport to galas.
“As much as anything I want to highlight the importance of the club and what it does and could do for more people with learning disabilities. However funding is what keeps it going and sponsorship is important.”
The walk started out on Portstewart Strand and saw walkers passing through Portrush, Portballintrae, the Giant’s Causeway, Dunseverick, and White Park Bay before finally ending up in Carrick-a-rede.
Amber said: “Eleven people completed the whole 26 miles. Another three did between 15 to 18 miles and a few others met us briefly throughout the day.
“It was quite hard going. We were walking on a lot of different terrain: gravel, sand, rocks, grass. There were quite a few blisters the day after. The day was definitely a success. Everyone had a great day and there was a lot of craic. It stayed dry all day though we were followed by a big black cloud!
“We were all really enthusiastic on the day. There was very little complaining, which surprised me!”
When the Ballymoney Times spoke to her, Amber was unsure of the total that had been raised but she added: “I think it’ll hopefully be around £1,000.”
Amber says anyone who would like to help with the group or help raise funds can contact her on 07724325665 for further details.