Father of three, Daragh Kelly, has been taking part in the GOAL Mile since he was a young child. Daragh has fond memories of the traditional family GOAL Mile dating back to the 1980’s.
By Daragh Kelly
There were five children in my family, and with my mum and dad, it was something we would do every year. My first GOAL Mile must have been almost 40 years ago now. It was just something I loved at Christmas. We all got a great buzz from taking part and always felt you’d done something positive while donating to a great charity.
In 2014 I had gone a few years without doing a Mile when I became aware of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. I saw reports of the amazing work that people, including GOAL staff on the ground, were doing, putting themselves at risk. It was then that I thought “what can I do?”
The Power of Getting Involved
I had been involved in setting up parkrun in Marlay Park and loved the experience of doing that. I learned about the power of volunteering in your community through that. You feel good, you are having fun though also know that you’re helping people.
I got in touch with GOAL to see if they could help me secure a venue for a new GOAL Mile. The first one I helped organise was in Terenure College in 2014. It was a lashing, rainy day, but people still came out and were in really good spirits. It was just a really nice morning.
Soon it grew, and Terenure College combined with Our Lady’s Terenure got involved in bringing a GOAL Mile to their communities. The schools were really supportive and on-board. I soon realised I didn’t need to be as involved and could focus on setting up another Mile. I then revisited an idea I had to get the GOAL Mile into Marlay Park. So on St Stephen’s Day in 2019, it was fantastic to see it finally happen there. The team was made up of about 30 lovely volunteers, about 1,000 people running and walking and it was so nice to see how generous people were. The Marlay Goal Mile raised about €10,000 in the first year, which was phenomenal. I learned too that every GOAL Mile is special and unique to their local communities and that’s brilliant.
2020 – A GOAL Mile Like No Other
We knew pretty early on that it was going to be a tall ask to go ahead with the normal GOAL Mile in the first year of the pandemic. That said, it was still disappointing for in-person events to be cancelled. I think going online was a brilliant initiative from GOAL. It helped grow the idea that people could both contribute online and take part from anywhere in the world.
On Stephen’s Day, we went and did our own version. We saw lots of GOAL Mile t-shirts around, and I’ve seen them over the last year at different running events. People are proud to wear them and seeing people in the t-shirts brings that team ethos together that bit more.
Generation to Generation
I think it could be a really special event this Christmas in getting families back out together, being active. You can’t underestimate the power of this as a Christmas tradition. Like me, there are other people who were doing the GOAL Mile 20, 30 or 40 years ago. They’re now bringing their children along to take part, naturally passing it on, generation to generation.
One of the really lovely things I’ve seen in recent years was my own children getting involved in the volunteering side of it and the joy it gave them knowing that they were helping in their own small way.
I really subscribe to the sentiment in the phrase “do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Taking part in, volunteering at or setting up a GOAL Mile really embodies that. I would really encourage anyone or any group to set up or get involved with a GOAL Mile. If you are thinking of it, go for it – you’ll have great fun.
It is a wonderful thing to organise. It’s very easy, and the team from GOAL are a brilliant support in that. So many people are willing to come out over that Christmas period, to take part, and have fun together and contribute to the amazing work that GOAL does. With a little effort, you can make a big impact!
To learn more about the GOAL Mile, or to register for or organise a GOAL Mile event in your community, please visit: https://www.goalmile.org