Luca (11) ran or cycled 3k a day to raise £4k for children’s hospital

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An 11-year-old school boy has raised almost £4,000 for the Blossom Children’s and Young People’s Centre in Craigavon.

Luca Donnelly spent the month of March walking, running, or cycling 3km every day to raise money for the hospital and managed to donate £3,966 worth of special items for the sick children.

With the help of mum Helen, dad Pearse and his two siblings they raised money for craft kits, Samsung tablets, fleece blankets, books, jigsaws and cushions for the children.

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His mum said: “He would come home from school and just quietly get changed and head out. We never needed to remind him or fight about it – he just got on with it We were overwhelmed with the donations we received.”

Luca Donnelly who raised almost £4k to buy items for kids at the Blossom Children and Youth People’s Centre in Craigavon Hospital.Luca Donnelly who raised almost £4k to buy items for kids at the Blossom Children and Youth People’s Centre in Craigavon Hospital.
Luca Donnelly who raised almost £4k to buy items for kids at the Blossom Children and Youth People’s Centre in Craigavon Hospital.

Luca, who attends Our Lady’s PS, Tullysaran, and indeed the whole family are very active and are involved with their local GAA club as coaches or playing members.

His mum said: “Luca loves are playing gaelic football for O’Connell’s GAC Tullysaran and playing rugby for City of Armagh Rugby Club - Rory Best is his role model.”

Luca is definitely ambitious. “When older he would love to play rugby for Ireland but also wants to be a chef and when he earns enough money from playing rugby he’d like to buy his own restaurant.

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“He also loves a good adventure, loves the outdoors and camping and if he was allowed he would love to go open water swimming in freezing conditions. He enjoys learning about Wym Hof who is also known as The Iceman and is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures.

“Luca has a soft side to him and if he sees someone less fortunate than himself it pulls at his heart strings and wants to help them. He would often mention them afterwards and wondering how they are. We missed out on doing Christmas fundraiser so about February time I asked him if he’d like to do a challenge for Easter and he jumped at the chance.

“He discussed a number of challenges, even doing 5km run/walk everyday for one month but we sought advice and felt that everyday for 2 weeks was more achievable for an 11 year old. We drew up a list of potential charities to help and he immediately jumped at the chance to help the hospital out.

“He liked the idea of raising the money for children just like himself, who may be parted from their families especially over Easter so we contacted the hospital to see what they would require. As we only anticipated raising approx. £250 they suggested we buy individual craft sets for each of the patients because due to Covid they were unable to share crafts, toys, etc.

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“We launched it on 3rd March with the hope of raising £250 and by 4th March he had exceeded his target and the money just kept rolling in. He hadn’t even ran an inch at this stage as he wasn’t starting the challenge until 7th March.”

Helen said she joined Luca and his older brother for the first day of the challenge.

“Luca was buzzing. He had been in school two days per week at this stage and when he would come home from school he would just quietly get changed and head out for a run/walk/cycle. We never needed to remind him or fight about it – he just got on with it often he said he wanted to run on his own so he could enjoy the peace!!

“His school were very good at helping him out and when they could they kindly ran/walked 1km with him on some of the days he was in school and he completed the remainder of the challenge when he got home. Family members would also have met him at local parks and ran with him (socially distance of course). His school also also very kindly organised a non uniform day with all proceeds going to Luca’s fundraiser (£185).

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“During Luca’s first week of the challenge weather was awful with often strong winds blowing, cold, wet blustery days were becoming the norm but again this never deter Luca and he just knuckled down and completed the challenge. Thankfully the second week the weather improved.

“Our families, friends, wider family circles, community, friends of Luca’s from his Gaelic and Rugby club have been fantastic in supporting him and following his progress and keeping him motivated sending him lovely messages. We received quite a few from complete strangers too which has been really lovely. We were overwhelmed with the donations we received from everyone.”



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