02 Oct 2022

Laois Paralympics hero to lead first John Dalton Memorial Walk

Laois Paralympics hero to lead first John Dalton Memorial Walk

Laois Paralympian Bronze medalist Gary O'Reilly to lead Timahoe New Year's Day walk renamed in honour of organiser the late John Dalton.

Laois Paralympian Bronze medalist Gary O'Reilly is to lead the 2022 Timahoe New Year's Day walk that has been renamed this year in honour of its organiser.

The walk which raises money for the Laois branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association was organised for 20 years by the late John Dalton.

Johnny died on January 3 this year, just four months after his son John also died.

The Dalton family are going to keep the walk going in Johnny's memory and have enlisted Portlaoise wheelchair cyclist Gary O'Reilly, who won for Ireland in Tokyo this year, to lead it out.

David Dalton told the Leinster Express that they wanted to do it in their dad's honour.

"Daddy was very popular and well known but he never got to have the funeral he deserved and wanted. He kept the walk going for 20 years, the only thing that stopped it this year was Covid restrictions, not his health or the will to do it.

"We decided it wasn't right to let it go, but we could use it to recognise what this walk meant to him and what he did with his life. Covid may play a part again this year but we hope it can stay going, with social distancing," David said.

"Gary O'Reilly is our paralympic hero. Daddy always managed to get an up to the minute local celebrity so we said we couldn't break that tradition, and because of Gary's ties to the Irish Wheelchair Association it is quite fitting," he said.

The money stays in Laois for Laois wheelchair users.

"It really changes people's lives. It pays to bring them shopping or maybe give them a few days away. That doesn't sound a lot but when you don't have a lot it makes a fierce impact. It is important that fund keeps going," David said.

There are two walks to choose from, a 6km and a 10km, leaving Timahoe village at 1pm on New Year's Day and heading into scenic Fossey Mountain, returning for hot beverages and soup, made by Johnny's son Pat who is a chef. 

Walkers can choose to donate on the day to a bucket collection, with proceeds divided between the Fatima Invalid Fund and the IWA Laois branch.

There is also a Gofundme page for online donations, or David can be contacted on 087 1305448 for a sponsorship card.

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