A BELFAST MAN is preparing to take on a gruelling charity challenge to raise money for brave Irish Everton fan Daire Flanagan.
Daire, 7, was born with Apert Syndrome – a rare condition that has caused his head to double in size.
Doctors said little Daire wouldn’t survive 48 hours after birth, but after undergoing life-saving surgery to reconstruct his face he is now flourishing.
Daire is a die-hard Everton fan and enjoyed a once-in-a lifetime trip to Goodison Park in May to meet his heroes, after family friend Ciaran Rogan started a fundraiser for his trip.
Everton and Republic of Ireland star Seamus Coleman generously donated £5,000 towards the fund Ciaran set up to help Daire’s dream come true.
Now Mr Rogan, a neighbour of Daire’s family in West Belfast, is set to retrace Daire's journey to Merseyside on foot and by bike all in aid of charity Mencap NI.
The 31-year-old is hoping to cycle 115 miles from Belfast to Dublin before getting the ferry to Wales and embarking on a 90mile walk from Holyhead to Liverpool.
But he needs help to get his charity challenge over the line.
Speaking to The Irish Post, Mr Rogan said he wants to spread the word about Daire’s story and the wonderful effect fundraising can have on the lives of unfortunate children.
“We have the route now and we’re planning to do it for Everton’s last home game of the season on May 5, 2018," he explained.
Belfast to Dublin by bike boat to Wales then walking to Liverpool(MAY2018) all ?% donations go to mencap Everton supporters,support daire RT pic.twitter.com/Jetkw9PgWN
— Ciaran rogan (@ciaranrogan85) June 12, 2017
“At the moment we have been trying to get as many businesses on board and thankfully a number are sponsoring us including Halfords and obviously Everton FC themselves. But we’re hoping for more.
“Any business sponsoring the journey will have their logo on the flyers and banners that will be posted right across the route from Ireland to Liverpool, which would be great exposure for them.”
Little Daire was targeted by internet trolls on Facebook earlier this year after they stole a picture of him and made cruel jokes about his appearance.
But Mr Rogan says Daire, who has undergone 20 operations in his short life, is made of stern stuff.
“Daire is a great little lad and he’s had a difficult time so it’s the least we could do,” he said. “I’m also hoping to do a charity skydive for the charity and I’ve began training for the challenge itself.
“The distance between Belfast and Liverpool is over 200 miles so it’s a huge, huge ask so it is, but it’s for a great cause.”