Wishes come true for charity at Leisure Centre

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COLERAINE Leisure Centre was delighted to be involved in a charity challenge this summer which saw over £2,000 raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Organised by a member of the gym, Jackie Hunter, along with Leisure Centre Fitness Supervisor, Shirley Jackson, the Coleraine to Disneyland Cardio Challenge saw 33 volunteers taking part over six days.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions.

The Coleraine to Disneyland Challenge, saw the team hoping to clock up enough miles on the Cardio equipment in the Gym to take them to Disneyland Paris. It’s a journey of 572 miles but by the end of the Challenge they’d clocked up a staggering 1572 miles!

Gym member, Brenda Coyle, whose son, Gavin Brown, passed away from acute myeloid leukemia in December 2008, took part in the Challenge to raise money for the charity. Brenda has first hand experience of the great work carried out by the foundation.

Brenda said: “Gavin was mad about bikes and cars and he always wanted a quad bike, and thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation he got one on June 10th 2008. But it was so much more than that, they picked him up in a Limo and took him to choose the quad, then took him out for a meal.

“They also organised for him to go to the Spring Gala in Stormont as the guest of Eddie Irvine. They also arranged for him to go with the Lamborghini team from Stormont to Kirkstown Racecourse. It was all just amazing.

“I can’t praise the Make-A-Wish Foundation enough, they really gave Gavin a focus and something to look forward to, it made such a huge difference to the whole family and now we have some truly wonderful memories.

“I’ve known Jackie Hunter all my life and we both go to the gym at Coleraine Leisure Centre, when she told me about the challenge I was delighted to take part and raise money for such an excellent charity.”

Jackie Hunter and Shirley Jackson presented a cheque to Make-A-Wish Foundation Fundraising Manger NI, Gayle McKee last Thursday.

Shirley said: “I am delighted that The Gym here at Coleraine Leisure Centre has been a part of this Challenge and that we’ve helped raise money for such a fantastic charity.

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable week and most importantly it was a great success seeing over £2000 raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“We understand that the money raised could see two children in Northern Ireland living their dream of going to Disneyland Paris, if that’s what they wish for.

“Some of the volunteers for the challenge had never used the Cardio equipment before and now they’re really enjoying using them. We always love seeing challenges like this at the Gym that encourage people to stay fit and healthy while raising money for a worthwhile cause.”

Jackie explained where the idea for the challenge came from: “I was speaking to the CLC Manager, Irene Mullan, and she suggested I try a fundraising half marathon on the cross trainer and said that the Gym would give me all the support I needed. Initially I signed up ten people all to do 10 miles each, then more people wanted to sign up, and I ended up with 33 people taking part.

“I looked at different charities on the internet and as soon as I read about the Make-A-Wish Foundation I knew instantly that I wanted to raise money for them. Then I found out that Brenda’s son had been granted his wish by the foundation and that she wanted to take part, it just worked out so well.

“It was Gayle McKee from the Charity who came up with the idea of cycling from Coleraine to Disneyland, Paris, as this is one of the trips a lot of the children ask for. It’s a journey of 572 miles but by the end of the Challenge we’d clocked up 1572 miles, more than enough to go there and back!

“I can’t thank everyone enough, from the bottom of my heart, for all the support and I’m delighted to have helped raise money for such a worthwhile charity.”

One of the other fundraisers was Roy McBrine. He added: “I took part in the challenge and I have to say I enjoyed it very much, it was a great day. It was very worthwhile especially as the son of one of our own Gym members was granted his wish.”

Gayle McKee, Make-A-Wish Found Fundraising Manger NI, said: “Shirley Jackson contacted me about the challenge at the Gym and I suggested the Coleraine to Disneyland, Paris challenge as so many of the kids dream of visiting Disneyland.

“I am delighted with the fantastic success of this challenge. It’s really important that local communities get involved in fundraising as it gets our message out there and helps us grant more wishes. Last year in Northern Ireland we granted 59 wishes and to continue that work we need to raise as much money as possible “Granting these wishes makes such a huge difference to these children and also to their families who end up with wonderful memories that last a lifetime.

“I want to thank everyone who took part in these challenges, as well as all the sponsors and Coleraine Leisure Centre for the use of their facilities.”