Sport for Business members and guests gathered in Dublin yesterday to explore the many ways that business and cycling intersect. They do so obviously on our roads around urban and rural areas but also in tourism, in charity, in team building and at the level of high performance.
We kicked off the morning with an inspirational telling of his story by Peter Ryan. Ryan was a high achieving hurler in Tipperary, living the life when he was struck by a diagnosis of Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, not what he was expecting after realising that his sight was not as good as it was and going to look for contact lenses.
He now has less than 10 percent peripheral vision in both eyes and is legally blind. “I was the only one in the room that wasn’t crying when the diagnosis was delivered to me and my family,” he told us in a delivery that had the room in absolute silence.
“I went into denial, went heavy on the socialising side to try to get away from reality and ended up checking in to the Aiséirí Centre in Cahir to get his life back on track.
I went up to UCD for a Paralympics Ireland Open Day in 2012,” he told us. “My aim was to find a game of five a side football between a bunch of lads, knock the ball, and them, around the place and go back home with a gym bag of sweaty clothes that would show my Mam I could still be the same lad she had reared.”
“Instead, I did a bike test and ended up in a conversation with Denis Toomey who was President of Cyclin Ireland and a Paralympic competitor himself and that gave me a new purpose.”
Less than four years later Ryan was competing with his pilot Sean Hahessy at the Rio Paralympic Games and he is now on a journey towards Tokyo.
“I do a bit of this speaking to help people understand what we can achieve but also to raise funds to keep us on the road.”
“I’m going to Girona in a few weeks with a group of business people who are passionate about cycling and who want to use that to further their own approach to other areas of life.”
That theme of bonding and doing something special followed through into the panel discussion that followed with Tony Daly, Chairman of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle, Michael Dawson, who as CEO of One4All in Ireland pressed the Government to introduce the game-changing Bike to Work scheme, and Gillian McDarby, Director of Cycling Ireland.
The endeavour to undertake a cycle, the emotion of doing it with friends and colleagues and achieving something that will stay with you forever shone through with Dawson talking of crying with a huge mix of emotions through the closing stages of events from Galway to Boston, and Daly talking with humour and passion about the €15 million that the Ring of Kerry event has raised down the years.
McDarby spoke of the bright future for cycling at a performance level with the development taking place at the National Sports Campus of the new National Indoor Velodrome.
There is a huge energy around the sport, and a real passion among participants that is central to what many sponsors are looking for in terms of engagement.
Yesterday was a start point on how the many strands of cycling, together with the business community might come together in common purpose. It looks certain based on early feedback that we will be forming a working group to look at a number of ideas about how we can make this happen.
If you are a member of Sport for Business and would like to be part of that discussion, contact us today and let’s see what might be possible.
If you’d like to explore the option of taking part in this year’s Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle you can find out all the details, and be inspired yourself, right here at RingofKerryCycle.ie