At some point in time, you have probably heard of the Indianapolis 500. You’re likely to be somewhat familiar with the North West 200 and if you follow rugby in even the slightest way Pro-12 won’t cause you a second thought. Names and numbers often go hand-in-hand but mention ‘Redhead300’ and a scratch of the head might ensue.
‘Redhead300’ is a charity fundraising walk for the Irish Cancer Society that will leave Derry on Saturday 5th August and conclude 300 miles later in Crosshaven, Co. Cork on Friday 18th August. ‘Redhead300’ will pass through Ballybofey, Donegal Town, Bundoran, Sligo, Boyle, Roscommon, Athlone, Birr, Roscrea, Thurles, Fermoy and Cork.
Why Derry to Crosshaven and ‘Redhead300’? Crosshaven is as you can imagine the archetypal picturesque Irish village. It looks across the bay to Cobh and is only a short journey from Cork by car. And travelling by car as you might expect is the normal mode of transport if you want to get there.
It is of course the home of the Irish Red Head Convention and whilst car might indeed be the normal mode of transport, it’s not if you go by the name Fergal Barr or Keith Adair, both of whom will undertake 300-mile journey on foot to the home of the convention in August, hence the name Redhead300.
Why anyone would embark on such a journey or as Fergal describes, ‘Crazy Charitable Crusade’ is anyone’s guess but Fergal can provide an answer.
‘I’m a big fan of the Irish Red Head Convention – a permanent fixture in my social calendar - and I have been going there since 2012 particularly when I discovered that an old friend of mine, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a number of years was no less than the King of the Red Heads.’
‘I thought this sounds a great bit of craic and a chance to catch up with my friend. It proved to be more than that, a wonderful festival, the best little festival on the planet in my humble opinion, and many of us just keep coming back - in many ways we have become very much part of the red family. I was a red myself at one point – most people can’t even imagine me with hair never mind red hair.’
‘As for motivation, well two years ago it was the 25th anniversary of a fundraising walk I undertook to the Irish Peace Institute in Limerick and so the idea of undertaking another major challenge, whilst I’m still fit enough to do so came to mind. The convention works hard to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society and somehow a fundraising-walk to support their efforts seemed not only novel but inevitable. And as I always go to the convention I just thought, why not walk to it instead of driving!’
Keith has his own motivation for wallking, ‘I’m a cancer survivor and it’s about giving something back. Most people have been affected in one way or another by cancer, either you’ve been unfortunate enough to have had cancer or a close friend or family member has suffered at the hands of it.’
‘I'm a survivor - I had part of my kidney removed last November, and on Friday, 4th March I had my first scan. Like all cancer survivors, I'm in remission. As I emerge from that journey, I’m now of course undertaking another one – all 300 miles of it of course! I accidentally came across Fergal’s fundraising idea in the Derry News, and as I love to walk, and being a cancer survivor I wanted to be involved in any way possible. Therefore, I contacted Fergal, we met for a coffee, and now I'm part of the ‘Team of 3’!
The Red Head Convention is of course taking a break this year but that hasn’t deterred Fergal and Keith from undertaking the journey.
‘Even though the Convention is on a sabbatical so to speak I didn’t want to wait another year and so I decided to go with it anyway. Keith has very kindly agreed to walk with me and at the moment we are currently searching for the 3rd and final member of our team, i.e., someone who will give up two weeks to walk with us or two people who will complete a week each. We are also looking for two ‘Guest Walkers’ to join us for each stage of the walk and for those who a full day might seem too much we are also looking for ‘RedVoluntionaries’ who will pick a point on the journey and join us and contribute €5 for each kilometre they walk.’
Fergal hopes that the aptly named ‘Redhead300’ will raise at least €5000 for the Irish Cancer Society.
If you think you can support the walk in any way, be that by being part of the ‘Team of 3’, a ‘Guest Walker’, a ‘RedVoluntionary’ or a ‘Local Liaison’ to help with logistics and promotion in each town they pass through you can drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find full details at www.thekingisalive.wixsite.com/redhead300 or like and share the Redhead300 Facebook page. You can also follow Redhead300 on Twitter, @redhead300walk and donate at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/redhead300