The sun shone brightly for Loughanure woman Bríd Sweeney on New Year’s Eve as she led nearly 100 people on her final 2022 walk.
Bríd set herself a challenge on January 1 last year to walk 365 days and raise money for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, a charity close to her heart and that of her family.
Through blistering sunshine, gale force winds, driving rain, slippery roads, and sometimes hailstones bouncing off her, Bríd did not falter once and walked anywhere between 5 and 10km every single day of 2022.
Most of her walking was around the Rosses and Gaoth Dobhair areas, but if she was out of town or even abroad the walking continued, and that included on holiday in Tenerife.
On New Year’s Eve she announced that the final total raised for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is a whopping €18,172.60.
Up to 100 of her friends and family assembled at Casadh an tSúgáin in Loughanure on Saturday last to join her final walk.
The group went to the Loughanure railway walk first, and then looped around the Ailt an Eidhinn road before arriving back in the village.
Refreshments were served in Casadh an tSúgáin.
Speaking to the Donegal News, a delighted Bríd said she is very happy and proud to have seen the challenge through.
“I have today completed my challenge to walk 365 days for the amazing charity that is The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust. €18,172.60 was raised, and without everyone who helped, supported, and donated I couldn’t have done this,” she said.
She revealed there were tears or sadness, tears of laughter, and tears of joy during her journey, but she just kept going.
“My final walk today is dedicated to all my family and friends who have lost loved ones. This day is for you,” she said.
This is Bríd’s second year in a row for a 365-day challenge, having pounded the roads of the north west in 2021 to raise funds for a memorial garden and monument in her native Dore.
So, what’s next? Bríd has revealed that she will take it a bit easier this year but will still walk for the benefit of mental health and well-being.
Starting on New Year’s Day again, she is walking this year again for well-being and mental health but will not be fundraising. She will also continue to remind people of the Kevin Bell Trust.
“Please don’t forget this Trust as they have helped so many of us. I won’t let you forget. I will continue to be grateful to them and remind you all throughout the year that they will always need our help,” she added.
The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust was set up in 2013 by Colin and Eithne Bell following the tragic death of their son Kevin in a road traffic collision in New York.
Fundraising in their hometown of Newry to help bring his body hope raised over £150,000, but his employers in New York had paid the repatriation bills.
The Bells were left with this huge sum of money generously donated and decided to use it to help other families.
So far, they have helped repatriate to Ireland, north and south, the bodies of over 1,300 people who have died abroad.
Colin and Eithne Bell attended the launch of Bríd’s walk in January, and in early December they were back in Loughanure to gratefully receive the cheque.
In a post this week on the KBRT Facebook page, they expressed their gratitude for all the support.
“Many, many thanks to our friend and force of nature, Bríd Sweeney. Bríd walked 365 days for KBRT raising an amazing €18,172.60. Thanks to her many friends who walked with her, and to all who contributed to this fantastic total. Donegal’s own Forrest Gump.”
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