Dingle army man lends Pieta a hand
JOHN ANTHONY THOMAS (28) TO DON ARMY GEAR FOR 48KM DINGLE ROUTE
DURING his six years in the Irish Defence Forces, south Lebanon-based Dingle man John Anthony Thomas has faced challenges such as providing security at airports and prisons, and this year he’ ll face a rigorous process as he pursues “Corporal” rank at Limerick’s 12th Battalion, ahead of providing security during the Papal visit this summer.
But as if all this weren’t hectic enough, the 28-year-old, due back to Dingle in the coming days, is set to take on the daunting Dingle Adventure Race, a 48-km challenge that calls on participants to run, kayak, and cycle their way around west Kerry. In doing so, John Anthony will navigate waterways, roads, and difficult climbs – in full army uniform while carrying a back-pack.
Jason Hayes – a 29-year-old colleague and housemate of John Anthony’s from Bruff, county Limerick – will join his friend on Kerry soils and seas, and John Anthony explained that they’re not taking on the challenge to raise funds for Pieta House and fly the flag for mental health.
“Both our communities, like thousands of others around Ireland, have been affected by the issues of suicide and selfharm,” he said. “We both feel that not enough is being done to help and support the young men and women of Ireland who have issues with mental health, especially young men between the ages of 15 and 25.
“Personally, I didn’t understand the effect suicide can have on a group of young friends and family, or a community as a whole, until the age of 19 when my group of friends lost a pop- ular, hard-working young man who was well-respected and held in high regard by everyone.
“We [he and Jason] wanted to stand out, so we decided to wear our uniform and carry a back-pack with the hope of creating interest around our fund-raiser. It’s not something you see too often and it will test us physically and mentally more so than the other competitors.
“We may regret it on the day, but it will be worth it when it’s over and we are sipping on a cold pint in a snug somewhere in Dingle.”
The pair has already raised €7,000 for Pieta House in the lead-up to the challenge – all the more remarkable given they initially thought €3,000 would be a success.
John Anthony’s colleague, Jason, has a hurling pedigree having represented his county at Minor, Under-21, and Junior, and it therefore comes as no surprise that 2017 Hurler of the Year Joe Canning has promoted the upcoming challenge through social media.
“We are both looking forward to the challenge”, John Anthony said. “Hopefully the rain might hold off. The uniform can be a lot heavier when it’s wet, especially the boots.
“Everyone has been very generous, and we both really appreciate it.”
If you’d like to donate, visit give.everydayhero.com/ie/john-anthony-jason-s-pieta-house-fundraiser-challenge.
John Anthony Thomas (second from left) on duty in south Lebanon for the Irish Defence Forces.