EPIC TRIP: American para-athlete Chris Slavin is hoping to become the first person to hand-cycle 2000km around Ireland – to raise funds for The Ian O’Connell Trust.
Chris plans fundraiser for local wheelchair user
By Sean Moriarty
American para-athlete Chris Slavin is hoping to become the first person to hand-cycle 2000km around Ireland – to raise funds for The Ian O’Connell Trust.
The epic trip, which began at 9am this morning in Killarney, is being undertaken to raise awareness about spinal injuries. Slavin herself suffered two in her ski career and is now in a wheelchair.
A former competitive snowboarder, Slavin was a keen traveller to Ireland, where she hiked the countryside, attended céilís and attempted to learn the Irish language.
In 2007, she suffered a serious spinal injury during a US ski-board competition and lost the use of her legs but continued as a para-skier in the mono-ski category. Eight years later she suffered another bad skiing accident that again damaged her spine.
She returned to Ireland on the 10th anniversary of her first accident and now divides her time between Killarney, Massachusetts and Cork.
During her time here she befriended local well-known wheelchair users including Ian O’Connell and Timo O’Sullivan of Lough Lein Anglers.
This year, as well as completing the Ring of Kerry Cycle on her hand cycle, she set up a charity called ‘Project Possible’ where she hopes to encourage wheelchair users to enjoy the great outdoors in places like Killarney National Park.
“Killarney is one of the most accessible towns I have been in Ireland,” she told the Killarney Advertiser. “It is not perfect, but it is comparatively good. I see Killarney, and everything it offers, being the ideal location for a project of this type. Really, there is something for everyone in Killarney; and the people. There is nobody with more can-do and warmth than a Kerry person. Seriously, I met Timo O’Sullivan on my first trip to Killarney…now there is the embodiment of Kerry ‘can do’.”
She picked September when tourist traffic will be less and because it’s also Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. Her journey begins at 9am tomorrow morning from theMonsignor Hugh O’Flaherty statute on the Mission Road.
It will take around four weeks to complete and she is expected to return to the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty statue by September 28.