Marion Mattimoe, from Ballina, County Mayo, has been recognised for her amazing community work, including leading her local GOAL Mile, with the Gala Retail and Virgin Media Inspirational Hero of the Year award.
While Marion sees the award as secondary to the work and dedication of the many community organisers and volunteers she has worked with, it’s a proud moment for her. Marion has been involved with the GOAL Mile in Ballina since 2004. A friend recently reminded her of the significance of the traditional Mile as an annual milestone.
“There are some people who’ve done it every year since the start of it here in 2004,” says Marion. “One person messaged me recently to say she was looking through pictures and said she has seen her sons grow up over the last ten years through the GOAL Mile.”
Bringing People Together
Marion highlights how the GOAL Mile is about more than running but coming together as a community and celebrating some new and long-held Christmas traditions.
“If you don’t want to run, you can walk, if you don’t want to walk, you can chat. We have some people that come straight from mass in heels. They might do a few yards, have a chat and head off again. It’s a bit of informal fun to bring people together.”
“A few years ago a man arrived with his daughter. He had done the Mile every year in Dublin since the early days of it and was in Sligo with his in-laws that Christmas. He looked up his closest GOAL Mile, which happened to be 45 minutes away, here in Ballina. It’s amazing to see how big a part it is in some people’s Christmas traditions.”
“New people come in every year but people who did it years ago as children also come back to it with their own children. A couple with two young children came up from Galway after opening presents there and were driving on to another town in Mayo for Christmas dinner after completing the GOAL Mile in Ballina. There would be a few families who have that kind of routine. For people who are living out of the area, it’s still a big part of their Christmas tradition.”
Challenging Miles – 2010 and 2020
Organising the GOAL Mile hasn’t always been easy, with two major events threatening to cancel the Mile in the past decade. The ‘Big Freeze’ in 2010 and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 meant the Miles in those years almost didn’t happen.
“In 2010 we had that big ice and snow and had to get people to dig the running track out for us. People brought their shovels and it was amazing that so many came. People could barely drive and run with the conditions. We still had over 150 people coming out that morning. It’s shows the dedication some people have.”
“In hard or tough times people are still eager to get together to do that.”
“Last year, we were disappointed to not be able to have the usual GOAL Mile, but we still marked it. We didn’t officially organize a physical event, but myself and some of my family went down in case people turned up, and also made sure to remind people to be socially distant, to be safe. We still raised over a thousand euros on the day.”
“I thought the virtual Mile was brilliant, because people who weren’t able to take part for whatever reason were still supporting from a distance, or people who had never done it before donated. I also asked friend’s network to share the virtual Mile, and the response was huge.“
Since 2004, Marion and all those who help with the Ballina GOAL Mile, including Catherine Gillespie, who nominated Marion for the award, have amazingly raised over €50,000, which goes to support GOAL’s life-changing work in fourteen countries around the world. Everyone at GOAL would like to thank Marion and every GOAL Mile organiser for their dedication towards and support of vulnerable communities around the world.
To learn more about the GOAL Mile, or to register for or organise a GOAL Mile event in your community, please visit: https://www.goalglobal.org/goal-mile/