A Boston-based Clara native is walking home to Offaly from Dublin airport this Christmas to raise funds for a mental health charity.
Maria Kelly has spent the last 18 months living in the US. Set to join the Garda Síochana in the new year, she wants to end her time Stateside “on a high” and came up with idea of walking from Dublin Airport to Clara to raise funds for the youth mental health charity, Jigsaw Ireland.
“About six weeks ago, I was lying in bed and I was scrolling through Facebook. It was Mental Health Week and I saw a lot of people sharing their stories about different issues and problems that they had overcome.
“These were people you would never think had any mental health issues. If you met them daily, you'd think they were flying.”
“That was inspiration everyone is conquering a battle and everyone has underlying issues and you don't know everyone's story," the Clara native said.
“Also, the great opportunity and experiences that I've had [in America] during this year, I wanted to do something to end it on a high and to do something for people [with mental health problems].”
Maria estimates that her mammoth walk from Dublin airport will take three days to complete. The first day of her journey on December 20 will see her walk the back roads from Dublin airport to Maynooth. Day two will see her walk from Maynooth to Kinnegad, while on day three she will tackle the 40km from the Westmeath town to Clara.
Maria has been preparing for her monster trip by going for ten to 12 miles walks from her Dorchester base to the centre of Boston. While she is expecting to be stiff and sore after her three day trek, she is looking forward to the challenge and will be joined by family and friends for different sections of the route.
“I have been trying to clock up the miles but it is going to be one of those things that I will just have to go until I drop. I don't think you could ever properly prepare.”
If you would like to donate you can do so online at give.everydayhero.com/ie/walking-home-for-christmas.