An inspirational group of teachers and assistants from St. Bernadette’s Special School in Letterkenny are making great progress in their epic Wild Atlantic fundraiser.

The nine teachers and staff have crossed the halfway point of their 4,500km challenge to raise much-needed funds for the school.

Each team member is targeting 500km in three months. They’ll be walking 4,500 km between them – around one and half times around Ireland’s coastline!

Despite their battles with the weather, blisters and time management, they are well on their way to achieving their goal as some participants have already conquered their 500km.

The teachers and SNAs taking part include Aisling McMullan, Tina Gallagher, Roseanne McGinley, Ann McGinley, Fiona McFadden, Michelle Shields, Patricia Deeney, Grainne Browne and Danielle McNamee.

Aisling McMullan – 500k Complete!

The women are all putting their best foot forward to raise funds for new equipment for their students to enjoy both indoors and outdoors. St. Bernadette’s School has done some great work over the last year with two new classrooms due to open for the next term. Visit the Go Fund Me page: 

Based in Letterkenny on the College Farm road, St. Bernadette’s is a co-educational day school for children with mild learning disabilities. The teaching staff work with children aged 4 to 18 who have a variety of special educational needs. In additional to school staff, St. Bernadette’s also prides themselves on inviting essential external therapists and sports coaches to ensure children have an excellent school experience.

Pictured are St. Bernadette’s Special School staff members who are among those taking part in the Wild Atlantic 500km Virtual Challenge. Pictured (l-r) are Roseanne McGinley, Tina Gallagher, Fiona McFadden, Michelle Shields, Aisling McMullan, Patricia Deeney and Danielle McNamee. Missing from photo are Ann McGinley and Grainne Hamilton. To make a donation, contact the school, any of the participants or visit the Go Fund Me page.

With just four weeks to go until their end goal of 31st August, the team members all shared a personal update on the challenge: 

Fiona McFadden

Fiona McFadden from Ramelton said: When I heard about the challenge, I thought it would be a great way to keep active, and raising funds for the school was an added bonus. My motivation comes from the fact that I know that I need to reach the 500K target, but some days it can be tough and you have to push yourself to get out for a walk. Once guidelines allowed it, we started group walks which I found brilliant. To date I have walked 350k and I’m looking forward to getting the last 150k done! Huge thanks to everyone who has supported us on the journey.  

Danielle McNamee

Danielle McNamee from Ramelton said: I’ve really enjoyed taking part in the Wild Atlantic 500km virtual challenge. It gave me motivation to get out walking and running in our beautiful county over lockdown! I’d encourage others to get walking or jogging consistently to maintain fitness and feel so much better for it. I have 420km done with 80km to go! 

Gráinne Hamilton

Gráinne Hamilton: Termon woman, Gráinne Hamilton, has been in the school for over forty years and has completed 400KM to-date.

Roseanne McGinley

Roseanne McGinley from Downings said: The whole experience has been brilliant. I managed to walk 100km in the first week and I won a voucher for Fisk Restaurant from C&C, which really gave me a boost. Thankfully, I got finished this week, six weeks ahead of schedule. Although I’m glad I completed it there were days I found it hard to get moving, I’m a fair weathered walker for sure! I find walking great for clearing the head and it made me realise that the scenery we have around us in Donegal is just amazing.

Patricia Deeney

Patricia Deeney from Buncrana said: I’m currently at 280k and have been enjoying the challenge so far. I have definitely found it difficult at times as I have two young kids at home. Getting out for long walks is quite hard, so I juggle doing more short walks with the kids, and if I can get out in the evening for a longer walk with a friend, it’s an added bonus. I set myself a weekly target which made it a lot easier so I don’t put pressure on myself to do more than that each week. I’m currently on target to finish at the end of August. 

Ann McGinley

Ann McGinley from Creeslough said: I’m really enjoying the walking and it’s the reason to get out and see more parts of our beautiful county! Even in the rain when you know you have to do your kilometres, it motivates you to get out! It is lovely meeting up with the rest of the girls and doing new walks in areas you normally wouldn’t. There’s still time to donate, so please support us!

Michelle Shields from Milford

Michelle Shields from Milford said: It’s been a busy few months clocking up the kilometres. When we initially signed up, the thought of 5.2km per day sounded very manageable, but we quickly realised it was a huge commitment and you really had to keep yourself motivated to ensure you didn’t fall behind. We have a WhatsApp message group, so we give each other words of encouragement when we need them. I’ve doing the walks with my son Avery, who really enjoys getting out and about and have also tackled a few Donegal hills and mountains such as Lough Salt, Knockalla Mountain, the Bluestacks and Muckish. It’s been a brilliant experience and massive thanks to each and every person who has donated to the cause. The money will go directly towards something special for the children to enjoy.

Tina Gallagher

Tina Gallagher from Letterkenny said: The challenge was actually brilliant to help keep me motivated and go out for a walk – even on days when I really didn’t want to. I haven’t missed many days since the 1st of June and I got finished a few days ago. Huge thanks to everyone who has made a donation to the school. We’ve been receiving donations via the Go Fund Me Page and cash donations. Every penny is greatly appreciated.

Aisling McMullan

Aisling McMullan from Dunfanaghy said:  I’m delighted to say that I finished the challenge last week! I found the overall challenge great. It was lovely to catch up with the other ladies once a week to swap stories and tales of woe including any news blisters, sore hips and knees. It kept me motivated and if I’m honest, I was consumed with it and considered a 5k day, a rest day! I love being out in all weathers and I’ve had it all – sun, rain, thunder and lightning. All very normal for our Donegal weather. There is something exhilarating about running in the rain.

To make a donation, contact the school, any of the participants or visit the Go Fund Me page: