Kelly (11) runs Belfast Marathon to raise funds for the homeless

11-year-old Kelly O'Rourke celebrates after taking part in the Belfast Marathon. inbm19-16s
11-year-old Kelly O'Rourke celebrates after taking part in the Belfast Marathon. inbm19-16s

Eleven-year-old Kelly O’Rourke has take part in this year’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon to raise life-saving funds for the homeless.

The Ballymoney Model Integrated Primary School pupil was one of five who completed a 5k leg of the 26.2 mile challenge.

Kelly explained: “On Boxing Day 2015, I went to Belfast to feed the homeless people. I have since learned that at least two of the people we gave food to that night are now dead. I would love to see this injustice come to a complete end. I dream of opening a ‘safe home’ one day so that the homeless would have somewhere to go, especially at night. On Monday, I took part in the Belfast Marathon to raise vital funds for the Welcome Organisation, Hope Outreach for the Homeless and Barnardos as they are actively involved in helping the homeless in Belfast.”

Her mum Klare continued: “Kelly and I ran/walked Leg B together which is 5k. Kelly was a warrior and she really valued the encouragement from the spectators. When she’d completed about two miles, she had a stitch and said she didn’t think she would be able to finish the leg so we just walked really slowly until she was comfortable. One of the spectators shouted from the footpath “you’re doing well wee pet, less than one mile to change over, you can do it”. This really spurred Kelly on and we completed the 5k in just under 50 minutes.

When she reached the change over point and crossed the mat she was elated!

“She was tired, of course, but she was so glad that she didn’t give up and she said that having completed the marathon in the same City where she knew the homeless slept in doorways at night made it even more meaningful to her. Kelly is a dancer with Victoria Lagan Dance and Drama so being super fit, she was in much less pain than I was afterwards. She hopes to improve her performance next year by working towards doing a longer leg and gradually increasing the distances she completes. Her goal is to run the full marathon when she is 16 - she’s much braver than me!”

Kelly hopes to reach her target of £300 and divide the money equally between the three charities. She continued: “So far I’ve only reached 20% of my target although I only began fundraising after I took part in the relay as I wanted to be able to tell my sponsors ‘I did that!’I’m only 11 and I’m really determined to make a difference - so please donate as generously as possible to support these charities in all that they do. Thank you.”

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