by Aoife Curran
A STRABANE man has raised over £1,500 for a local counselling centre after completing four marathons inside three days.
Paul Connolly, a personal trainer completed the incredible feat in support of The Koram Centre and raised an impressive £1,580 for the mental health charity.
Speaking on Monday as he handed over a cheque to the organisation, the 35-year-old explained the rationale behind the gruelling challenge.
“I took a mad notion after sitting in the house one day. I had ran marathons before but I fancied doing something different and I’m always up for a challenge. I specifically chose the Koram Centre because I wanted to raise awareness of the fantastic work that they do.
“From the day I called them to say I was doing it, I knew from their reaction that I had made the right choice. They’re an invaluable service to the local community. I did a prize draw as well as part of the fundraising and the reaction I received from shopkeepers and the local community was amazing. The minute they heard it was in aid of The Koram Centre, they wanted to give right away.”
Paul continued: “The stand out moment for me was the cycle from Strabane to Limavady on Friday which ended up being 40 miles long. A friend of mine had cycled along with me. It was very hilly and by the time we got to Limavady I think the two of us were like ice blocks.
“I thought I was losing my eyesight at one stage because the hailstones were hitting us that hard but I completed it along with another marathon on the SkiErg machine at Crossfit Limavady. On Saturday I completed my third marathon on the rowing machine at Revolution Gym in the Ballycolman area. Four marathons in three days was a tough, enduring task but I didn’t expect anything less.
“Finishing on the Sunday, October 28, at the Dublin City Marathon was the pinnacle of the event. I wish I could do it all again. I felt great finishing it and it’s all for a good cause which makes it even better.”
The local man wished to say a “massive thanks” to all the local businesses who donated towards the draw and to everyone who bought tickets and also to the ticket sellers.
“Thanks again to everyone at Revolution Gym, CrossFit Limavady, Sports Therapy Retro Arcade Hire, Paddy Doherty for the bike, to my wife Kelly for everything and to everyone else who messaged, came along to support me and joined in on the events,” he added.
All in all, the Strabane man totalled an impressive 104.87 miles and all the money raised will help the centre provide much needed services to the Strabane area.
Koram Centre manager, Wendy Graham said the centre is grateful to Paul for his efforts.
She added: “I’m absolutely delighted at Paul’s efforts, he’s been fantastic. We were so surprised, delighted when we got the phone call to say he was going to do it and that he had chosen The Koram Centre because it’s usually the bigger charities who get the funds.
“The boost in money has already made such a difference to our small charity because we now have money to see people more urgently and give them all the support they need. There’s been an increase in the demand for mental health services at the minute and we’re seeing a real peak in our own services in particular.”
Wenda said that not only had Paul’s marathon effort raised vital money for the centre but that it had also helped raise its profile.
“I can’t thank Paul enough for creating an awareness of our charity who provides counselling, psychotherapy, psycho-social support and complementary therapy services to those in need. Everything from the ticket sales, to speaking to people in the shops and at the marathons has helped raise our profile and we're so grateful to have the communities support as well.
“In an ideal world, we’d like to see the mental health stigma broken down further and have mental health facilities funded in the same way that physical health is. I hope in the future that mental and physical health will be on the same wave length and are considered the same.”