The Hand of Friendship

I tend to use the word ‘challenge’ to describe my upcoming adventure around Ireland and yes, it is a challenge to run long distances day after day, but there are so many people in the world who face greater adversity year in, year out. These are people to be admired and from whom we can gain great wisdom.

I am running 60 ultra-marathons in a row for a few different reasons. First and foremost it’s to raise money for three worthy charities; The Paddy Wallace Fund for Autism, The Keith Duffy Foundation and Fighting Blindness. Each organisation works hard to improve the quality of life for people with autism and blindness and it means so much to me to be a part of that.

But I also hope to inspire others to overcome challenges in their lives. Every single person faces obstacles and hardships and it can be easy to get trapped in a cycle of self-pity and procrastination. There will always be excuses at hand to keep us down and hold us back. But the truth is, challenges are there to help us grow and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. With every challenge that we conquer we become stronger and more durable.

YellowHandBut one more significant factor behind this road trip is that I want to encourage people to be more open and understanding towards others. Painting my hand yellow every day for 60 days isn’t just symbolic. It’s a genuine invitation for friendship. Building relationships can be challenging for many people with autism and blindness, but there are times when communication can be challenging for everyone.

Friendship is a powerful force that can ease anxieties. Friendship can cross all kinds of divides, different ethnicities, religions and political groups. By talking, sharing and getting to know one another, we form a common ground. I think if every person lowered their defenses to strangers, the positive impact would be boundless.

So I’m asking everyone to pencil my epic adventure into their summer calendars. Let’s do it together, so pick a day, come out and join me. It doesn’t matter what fitness level you feel you’re at and if you walk or run the route. I just want you to get involved. There is a limited edition Hand of Friendship medal for everyone who registers which not only marks each accomplishment but will hopefully serve as a reminder to keep your hearts and minds open in the future.

But if you feel that an ultra-marathon is more of a spectator sport then that’s ok too. I’m hoping for a supportive audience in every town. Bring your friends and family – play music, sing a song or dance, but most importantly, please donate.