Belfast Telegraph

Special night of stars for Games appeal

By Nikki McWilliams

After London 2012 and the Paralympics, it’s the turn of our Special Olympians to take centre stage at the World Winter Games in South Korea in January.

Three Ulster youngsters have risen above learning disabilities to win places on the Ireland team...Rosalind Connolly from Portadown, Lucy Best from Lisburn and Ryan Hill from Richill

This Saturday night, their efforts will be recognised as leading sportsmen and women team up at a unique event to raise funds for the overall sports charity, Special Olympics Ulster, at the Shaw's Bridge Ramada hotel in Belfast.

A line-up of top sports stars including Irish rugby heroes Rory Best and Rob Kearney; Olympic legend Dame Mary Peters, recent London 2012 silver medal boxer Michael Conlonand Down Gaelic footballers,Danny Hughes and Benny Coulter will lend their support at the ‘Celebrating Sporting Heroes’ dinner.

Special Olympics Ulster patron and host for the evening Gerry Kelly will interview the sports stars in a panel discussion that promises to be entertaining and revealing.

Ronan McCay, regional fundraising co-ordinator for Special Olympics Ulster, explained the background to the event, saying: “Sporting endeavour and excellence is currently at the forefront of people’s minds. We have put together an event that celebrates the achievements of some of the biggest local names in sport, including some of our Special Olympics athletes. Rory Best, Rob Kearney, Michael Conlan, Mary Peters, Danny Hughes and Benny Coulter will join us for what promises to be a very special night for fans of local sport.”

Special Olympics Ulster is also supported by the PSNI Torch Run team, whose fundraising efforts are instrumental in ensuring the charity can continue to change the lives of thousands of young competitors here.

Assistant Chief Constable, Will Kerr, also a Special Olympics patron, said: “We are delighted to work with Special Olympics Ulster to create what promises to be a truly memorable night. Special Olympics athletes inspire and set an example to us all. The dedication they show is no less than that of any other athlete and they deserve our full support.”

Tickets for the event cost £45 and include a three-course meal. Live music follows the panel discussion. A limited number of tickets are still available from Ronan McCay on 028 9089 2996/07702 714129 or e-mail


Special Olympics was established in Ulster in 1978 as a year-round sporting organisation for people with intellectual disabilities. Some 2,043 athletes are registered within a network of 98 clubs Special Olympics Ulster’s work is supported by a network of 5,855 volunteers. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is a worldwide organisation whose role is to raise awareness and vital funds for Special Olympics. In Ireland, both the PSNI and An Garda Siochana are very active Torch Run participants.

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