Challenge 21



Irish Olympic athlete David Gillick is this year’s ambassador for the Down Syndrome Centre’s upcoming Challenge 21 event which will take place on September 15. Joining him is nine-year-old Lydia, who has completed the 21km fundraising event the past two years in support of her eight-year-old sister Sophie, who has Down syndrome. Together, they are asking people to rise to the challenge and walk, jog, or run the 21km from Booterstown to Howth – whilst sharing their thoughts and training tips in anticipation of the event.

Both David and Lydia agree that Challenge 21 is a great day out for a worthy cause. Lydia’s sister Sophie attends the Down Syndrome Centre and is the main reason Lydia has come back for a third year of a walking filled Sunday. “The centre is our second home, the people in the centre are very good to Sophie. It makes me really happy to see them help her. I’m turning 10 just after this year’s walk, so I hope it’s the best one yet,” says Lydia.

This year the centre is aiming to raise €80,000 with all proceeds from the day out going directly to providing essential services for children with Down syndrome.

“I was blown away. They’ve created an environment where children are able to access essential services, many of which we take for granted on a daily basis. All without any government funding,” David Gillick said when he visited the centre recently. “That’s why fundraisers like Challenge 21 are so vital for the families who use the services at the Down Syndrome centres around the country.”

Lydia, Sophie and David

Lydia, Sophie and David

Here and David and Lydia’s top three tips ahead of Challenge 21: 

1. In the weeks leading up to the 21km Challenge

David suggests: “A balanced diet with good proteins and carbohydrates is essential. The more colour in your food, the better. We all like treats, but have them when it suits, not all the time. Eat regularly, and hydrate. 2-3 liters of water a day especially leading up to a big event.”

2. A healthy breakfast is the best way to start the day

Lydia says: “A good breakfast (I eat porridge and berries) goes a long way. Trying is all you can really do. If you can make it to the halfway point, you can keep going! I’ve been doing the walk since I was 7. You can too.”

3. Start small with training and work your way up – consistency is key

David stresses: “You can do amazing things in a short period of time. Even if you only have 20 minutes, grab a friend or family member and get active.”

Challenge 21 events will be taking place around the country on the weekend of September 15. For more information or to register visit or contact 661-8000.


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