Special Olympics find new sponsors at Kilkea Castle

THE owners of Kilkea Castle which is to re-open in July, have announced a major sponsorship deal for Special Olympics equestrian events in Leinster.

Jay and Christy Cashman from Boston will re-open the castle following extensive renovations and they announced the sponsorship deal at a recent event at the castle which was attended by members of the Pitfield Special Olympics club in Castledermot.

Margaret Kinsella is the chairperson of Special Olympics Pitfield and she told the Kildare Nationalist how the sponsorship deal came about.

“A Special Olympics equestrian club was set up here in Pitfield, Castledermot in August 2014 catering for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Since then we have signed up 20 volunteers, as well as 15 athletes. We train every Thursday evening from 6.30pm to 7.30pm and all athletes are making amazing progress and enjoying the experience.

“Recently our centre was chosen to host the South Leinster Advancement Event which is a qualifier on the way to the Special Olympics in 2019. As many as 10 of our athletes qualified to go forward to the regional finals which were held in Gaffneys Equestrian outside Naas.

“As this is a costly operation to run, we were asking for sponsorship fron the National Special Olympics to help with their very limited budget. Pitfield is just one of the many equestrian clubs in the country which benefit,” said Margaret.

“The renovations at Kilkea have been ongoing for approximately two years and at the time Christy and Jay Cashman, who come over to Ireland for a week each month, were around. Christy had been asking around about where she could go horse riding. She was told about Pitfield and when she came over I was speaking with her and I asked her if she was aware of the Special Olympics movement. She said she was and she said it was a movement which is very close to her heart. We spoke about possible sponsorship and she said that of course they would be delighted to get involved. She also told me that as a local business they were keen to contribute to a community initiative and Special Olympics struck her as being ideal.”

Special Olympics Ireland was established in 1978 and it is a 32-county programme with five regions. 8,727 athletes who are members of 352 clubs participate in Special Olympics events with the support of 27,000 volunteers and 3,629 coaches.

400 athletes participate in equestrian events with Leinster having the highest participation levels. The Ireland games are coming up in 2018 and 45 equestrian athletes will be competing including athletes from Pitfield.

Margaret says Jay and Christy Cashman have been very generous and invited all the athletes, volunteers and head office staff to Kilkea Castle for a meal and the launch of the sponsorship deal.