ON THE FOOTBALL field, Eoin Cleary was always one to set the way and he’s now showing leadership off the pitch by spearheading a fundraiser for Down Syndrome and autism research.

Running since 15th February for fifteen days with fifteen prizes on offer, 15 for Catatonia is a fundraiser seeking to create awareness and further research into catatonia.

A wide range of Eoin’s inter-county gear and jerseys swapped with opponents from other counties is on offer as part of the fundraiser which has a €10 fee for one entry, €20 for two entries and so on.

85 percent of funds raised will go to the Catatonia in Autism and Down Syndrome Research and Support programme. This initiative seeks to create awareness and further research into catatonia. The remaining 15 percent goes to the collaborative Clare Sports Partnership and Get Autism Active Clare schools initiative. This entails training TY students to teach fundamental movement skills to autistic students in their schools.

Former Clare football captain Cleary explained why he decided to launch the fundraiser. “I was getting married at Christmas and I wanted to do something for charity, funnily enough Susan Crawford a few days later was passing the house running with her son Tomás, Susan is a very inspiring person in the community, she has dedicated her life to research in autism between helping people and creating awareness around it, I wanted to give something small back for her. When I was working in SuperValu, Seán Nestor also worked there, he is a big Clare and Miltown Malbay supporter, Seán has Down Syndrome. Catanoia affects the Down Syndrome and autistic population, this is something Susan wanted to put forward to put research into and put money into Clare Sports Partnership”.

At the time of going to print, the fundraising target of €4000 has been surpassed which Eoin described as “unbelievable”. He said, “the generosity people have shown is unbelievable and also messages from people who have people in their own lives affected by autism and down syndrome has been really touching, it creates awareness around it and gives more perspective that people need an extra bit done and it all helps”.

Having attended one of Susan’s autism seminars five years ago, Eoin’s perspective changed. “I see how much passion Susan has for creating awareness around autism, there was Gardaí, teachers, SNAs all there on that night, it all helps people to become more aware and how to communicate with them and make their lives better, I got that perspective five years ago and contacting Susan was the reason I wanted to do something for her because she is a very inspiring woman”.

Miltown Malbay native Cleary stressed the importance of GAA players using their profile for positive actions. “That is what you should be doing. When you’re lucky enough to be an inter-county player you get access to gear, you get access to a lot of people with good contacts, my club and county mate Gordon Kelly has created awareness around the situation in Gaza with an initiative starting up Clare Gaels for Gaza, that is what inter-county players should be doing, you have an advantage when you do get a profile and it is nice to use it in the right way”.

He continued, “The 15% going towards the Clare Sports Partnership initiative helps to create a bond between a student and an autistic student in their school, TY students are being taught to teach fundamental skills to autistic kids in their schools which relaxes them before they go into schools and it builds a bit of a relationship, what they are doing deserves a bit of support too. You want to leave a lasting impact and make people’s lives better, we are all trying to make everyone else’s life better, all going well that is what it will do, with Susan involved there will be more initiatives”.

Dr Susan Crawford explained, “This initiative seeks to create awareness and further research into catatonia which is a condition that affects autistic and Down Syndrome populations. Catatonia causes people to freeze in movement whether walking, eating, working etc and has a huge impact on the daily lives of those affected and their families. Promoting Movement and physical activity is key for everyone and especially so for autistic and Down Syndrome populations”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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