A SIX-YEAR-OLD Mullingar boy is celebrating after completing an epic 250 kilometre cycle challenge to raise money for an children’s hospital in Ireland.
Áinle Smith enjoyed a hero’s welcome after completing the final leg of his epic journey last week with friends, family and a Garda escort cheering him on.
It was the perfect end to three weeks and 14 stages of cycling during which time the youngster covered a whopping 251 kilometres on two wheels.
The finish was also the perfect ending to an incredible personal journey for the six-year-old.
When Áinle was born, doctors discovered he had a serious heart condition.
At just five days old he underwent complex cardiac surgery at Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin, to correct the issue.
Today, while he continued to be monitored by a cardiologist, he’s grown up to be a happy and healthy young boy.
When lockdown began, his parents decided it was the perfect time for Áinle to learn to ride a bike.
Gifting him his first set off two wheels, it wasn’t long before he had learned to cycle and, with plenty of time on his hands, decided to set himself a challenge: cycle 250km before he turns seven on July 22.
With the help of his mum, Deirdre, Áinle also set up a fundraising page for people to sponsor his epic cycle challenge with money going to the Children's Medical & Research Foundation (CMRF) Crumlin.
He’s exceeded his initial fundraising target of €8,000 to generate €8,657 for CMRF Crumlin via 227 donors contributing.
The Westmeath division of An Garda Síochána have led the tributes to his incredible efforts, describing Áinle as an “inspirational young member of our community”.
Pretty impressive for someone who just a few weeks ago couldn’t even cycle!
If you would like to make a donation to Áinle’s charity cycle ride, you can do so here.