The people of Donegal have opened their hearts and homes to participants in the second annual Cycle Against Suicide.
Over 600 riders will arrive at Abbey Vocational School, Donegal town at 7.30pm evening, as part of their all-Ireland marathon 1,400km cycle.
It’s all in aid of raising awareness of the supports for people struggling with depression, self-harm or thoughts of suicide, as well as those bereaved by suicide.
Some of the riders will complete the entire gruelling circle while others will take on one of two stages. In all, more than 7,000 people will use their pedal power over the 14 days to support this worthy cause.
At least 300 of the participants will be staying at the homes of local people.
Organiser Siobhan Gallagher said the response to their appeal for “home stays” was overwhelming.
“It’s unbelievable, overwhelming. We’ve had more than 300 people offering to put cyclists up on Tuesday night. That’s so important because otherwise the participants would have to pay for accommodation themselves.”
Cycle Against Suicide was started by entrepreneur Jim Breen, after he took part in RTÉ’s “The Secret Millionaire” programme.
The riders set out from the RTÉ studios in Dublin last Monday, April 28th, and they’ll be in the saddle until this Sunday, May 11th, criss-crossing all of Ireland.
They’ll be in Donegal for three days and the organisers are hoping for a great turnout to cheer them on along the county’s roads.
Today’s schedule has them leaving Summerhill College, Sligo at 2.45pm and pedalling north to arrive at Abbey Vocational School, Donegal town, from around 7.30pm.
On Wednesday morning, they’ll leave from the AVS at around 10.15am, travelling on to Strabane Academy (lunchtime) and then to Foyle College, Derry at around 6pm.
Their last day in Donegal takes them from Derry (dep. 10.15am) to Moville Community College (11.30am-12.30pm). After lunch, they’ll cross the lough on the Foyle Ferry and continue on to St Patrick’s College, Maghera.
Another of the organisers, Angeline Collins from Ballybofey, is asking the people of Donegal to turn out in force along the route, especially in her hometown of Ballybofey. The riders will be passing through the Twin Towns from around noon on Wednesday. “Let’s cheer them along and show them we care,” she said.
It’s also not too late to join up. You can register in Donegal for the next leg of the cycle from 7am tomorrow morning at Abbey Vocational School.
Registration costs €40, which includes your official Cycle Against Suicide jacket.
Go to cycleagainstsuidcide.com for more information, including maps for each of the stages.