THE PIETA 100 charity cycle takes place at nine venues nationwide this Sunday, including Kilkenny where it gets underway at 9am from Clara GAA Club.
After a successful debut last year, the Pieta 100 has expanded from three locations to nine in 2016. Last year the cycles raised nearly €100,000, funds that help to keep Pieta’s life-saving counselling services free.
Earlier this year, Pieta House was chosen by employees at Aviva Ireland as their charity partner over the next two years. The objective of the partnership is to make the Pieta 100 a 32-county event that will become over time as successful in raising funds for Pieta House as the Darkness Into Light walks, which take place each May.
Rugby stars David Wallace and Jenny Murphy, cyclist Martyn Irvine, rugby analyst Brent Pope and Today FM presenter Paula MacSweeney gathered at the Aviva Stadium to promote the cycles.
Pieta House CEO Brian Higgins, who has recently finished a 1,000km rickshaw road-trip across Ireland to raise awareness of the stigma around suicide and mental health issues, says there are many reasons why the Pieta 100 should appeal to people.
“It’s an exciting thing to be involved in. We wanted to build on the momentum of support that we have amassed from Darkness Into Light,” he said. “The Pieta 100 is open to individuals and teams, but everyone is in this together – it’s not a race.”
“It’s about starting and finishing a journey in a time that suits you and that’s a reflection of how our work at Pieta House is done. It’s about engaging with people and sitting alongside them on a journey and that journey can take as long as it needs to for that person. We want to travel alongside them and support them.
“In the same way that someone out on a cycle can put a supportive hand on your back to help push you up a hill, that’s really the job of Pieta House too.
“There’s a personal achievement that comes out of it, there’s the achievement of meeting new people and having a good day’s craic. There’s also the achievement of having raised money to keep our services free for anyone who needs them.”
With 1,500 taking part last year in three venues (Limerick, Cork and Galway), organisers hope to get close to 5,000 people involved this year.