Four Donegal men are gearing up, with just a week to go, to raise money for autism when they compete in the four person team section of Race Across America (RAMM 2018) next Saturday.
Milford native, Arthur McMahon, Padraig MacGinty from Downings, Convoy's Gavin Harris and Gerard Callaghan from Letterkenny will fly the flag for Ireland and Donegal, and are the only team representing Ireland this year, when they race for Team Donegal Oil Ireland in the world's longest cycling time trials, which gets underway on Saturday, June 16 at Oceanside, California.
The local quartet are the only Irish team entered in this year's RAAM. The famous annual ultramarathon bicycle race was first held in 1982.
This team, which will be managed by their crew chief, Letterkenny and Dunfanaghy based auctioneer, Boyd Robinson, will cycle 3,000 miles across 12 states and climb over 170,000 vertical feet.
Team racers have a maximum of nine days to complete the distance, with the average finish time for teams being seven and a half days. Solo racers have a maximum of 12 days to complete the race.
Donegal Oil Company Managing Director, Arthur McMahon, who was responsible for setting up the Donegal Oil Foundation four years ago, revealed that to date, €30,000 has been raised for local and national charities through Team Donegal Oil's participation in endurance events locally and nationally and to take this now to an international event is an exciting challenge.
Arthur said: “All the expenses of our RAAM trip have already been raised through sponsorship (“Miles” by Circle K and Donegal Oil Company), by the cyclists and crew themselves so every single cent we raise for Autism will be spent in Donegal for the benefit of children and adults on the Autistic spectrum.
“It is our intention, through the Donegal Oil Foundation, to raise money for schools in County Donegal and provide educational aids in the form of technology products for children on the autistic spectrum.
“We are calling out to schools, charities, sporting and other organisations in Donegal to register with our Donegal Oil Foundation, so they can avail of educational aids to assist with their internal programs for children they teach and coach with autism.”
Entering a four-person team in RAAM is something that Arthur himself has been mulling over for the last few years. After drawing up a plan at the start of the year, and securing support and sponsorship, it's all systems go to take part in the Race Across America next week.
"To be able to pull together a team of people from Donegal who already know each other for one of the most grueling cycling events in the world will make this challenge something very special," Arthur commented.
“Our company have always supported local fundraising efforts and that won’t change. However, we have a really busy few years ahead for our Team Donegal Oil Ireland initiative and we’d like to make sure that there’s a lasting benefit from all our hard work.
"We have a few rules about how we handle funds raised by the Foundation. Every three months we will publish on our Facebook page all the money raised and donated by the Foundation. All funds raised will only be donated in County Donegal.
“We will always aim to buy equipment for the organisations we seek to help rather than giving money. We will never take any salaries, expenses or fees of any kind from the Foundation.”
"We wanted to have an open and transparent way of showing people how the money raised was spent. That’s why we have rules about what we can help with," he added.
"We are very excited about the Donegal Oil Company Foundation Programme. We are delighted that we can help children and adults with autism to get as much of the most up to date modern technologies and training possible to assist and help with their education, personal development & fitness. We also hope that in doing this, we will also raise awareness for autism in the county," Arthur concluded.
Looking ahead to the event, Boyd Robinson said: "RAAM is the ultimate test for crews and riders in the ultra-cycling world. I am delighted with the team that we have put together.
“After taking part in the Team Joe Barr 500 mile race, it showed what a hardworking and fantastic crew that we have assembled for this challenge. We will be put through the greatest of tests, both mentally and physically as a team over 3,000 miles, and it's one that we can't wait to take on."
RAAM riders will start from Oceanside, California, under one of the longest piers in California and travel from west to east, finishing at the City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland. It promises to be some adventure for the Donegal crew in between and there will be many highs and lows to share.
The Donegal Oil Foundation have set up an online donation page and donations can be made through the following link:
You can also follow the Race on Facebook:
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