Special Olympics Ireland (Team Ireland) and Special Olympics Eastern Region (Swords Basketball Club)
Chloe Farrell joined Special Olympics Eastern Region (Swords Basketball Club) in 2016 at a time when the club was unsure about the future of the organisation. Since then, her impact in both this club and the organisation has been astounding. Within the club, her positivity and knowledge on the sport has helped the athletes to develop a love for the sport and for fitness. She has been instrumental in recruiting new volunteers to assist in the club, and has dedicated many hours to devising training plans, fitness routines, healthy eating, and healthy lifestyle plans for the athletes to ensure they are completely ready for competition.
Chloe is known for going the extra mile and has even helped a number of their athletes who are no longer in a position to train with the team due to age or injury to now become table officials so that they can still be involved in the training sessions and still see their team competing. During COVID, she hosted online workout sessions open to anyone so that Special Olympians across the country and across different sports could keep up their fitness when practices couldn’t be held.
Chloe also took on the role of head coach for Team Ireland ladies basketball team, who were competing in the World Summer Games in Berlin this summer. She took a group of individual players from different clubs around Ireland with different playing habits and created a cohesive and effective team, bringing home gold medals for Ireland! Chloe has become a friend to all who were a part of Team Ireland, from the athletes, to other coaches, and Special Olympics Ireland team members.
Special Olympics Connaught
Tara McLaughlin has been volunteering with Special Olympics Connaught for five years, originally with the Splashing Penguins Swimming Club and currently as the Club Chairperson for the Sligo Special Olympics Young Athletes Club. She leads the management team of the sports club, responsible for the programme within the club, governance, compliance, fundraising, volunteer support as well as supporting local athletes.
Even during her leaving cert and after moving away to college to study medicine, Tara kept up her commitment to facilitating children’s health and wellbeing, as well as their confidence in the water. She embraced the role of an informal ambassador for Special Olympics, radiating her enthusiasm and dedication to the cause in her daily life. Her infectious passion and unwavering commitment have undoubtedly left an indelible mark not only on the lives of the athletes she supported but also on the broader community.
“Tara’s impact through her volunteer work with Special Olympics has been nothing short of remarkable,” say her nominator “Her resilience and ability to steer the club through adversity has not only revitalized the spirit of the organization but also instilled hope for a promising and vibrant future.”
Riding for the Disabled Ireland
Peggie O’Neill has volunteered with Riding for the Disabled Ireland since the early ’90s. During these more than 30 years, she has selflessly given her time, talents, and skills to give children and young adults with disabilities the opportunity to partake in horse riding sessions, which benefits their physical and development. They increase their motivation, self-confidence, and social development through the interactions with the animals, coaches, and other young people.
Peggie has a natural empathy with riders who, during their sessions, encounter the new sensations of riding with challenging behavior. However, through her calm, kind, reassuring nature and her boundless patience, she is able to develop a rapport with the riders and create an environment that fosters both calmness and trust. This allows the children and young adults who are coached by her to fully benefit from the positive outcomes of therapeutic horse riding sessions with RDAI.
Peggie has used her incredible energy and patience, along with her gentle manner and intuitive instruction, to provide therapeutic riding lessons for the Broad Meadows RDAI group and Kilronan RDAI group. Under Peggie’s careful guidance, one young person who started without the strength to sit up on a horse went on to represent RDAI in the Royal Dublin Horse Show, where they participated in a demonstration ride showcasing the work and achievements of riders, riding at a rising trot!