Saturday the 24th of November saw the Shamrock Lodge in Athlone turn green and gold as it welcomed the Heart of RINKA Awards, a heart-felt initiative run by RINKA their team of children’s fitness instructors. The event was proudly supported by AIB, and Eileen Sweeney of AIB said it was ‘a privilege to be there, and see all those magnificent children and their parents. It was truly humbling and would make you realise how good most of us have it’
CEO of RINKA, Sarah Gillespie, addressed the crowd on the day explaining that the event was about celebrating the different capabilities, talents and interests each child has and recognising the challenges that the nominees face on a daily basis. ‘The award wasn’t about being the best, or trying to come in first place. It was simply a day out to let these awe-inspiring children and their parents enjoy and to give us a chance to say we see you, we’re proud of you and keep going’.
There were 18 children awarded on the day with over 120 people in attendance but the RINKA team were sure to keep things moving! ‘We had a disco, face-painting, oversized characters, a magician, art, a sweet cart and the most favoured part of day was the Heart of RINKA Superhero cape that each nominee was presented on arrival’ said Sarah. ‘We also had each nominees picture and story displayed on a wall of fame as they entered the room – the whole focus was letting everyone know who the ‘important people’ on the day were!’ she added.
To add to the prestige of the event, the RINKA team were honoured to welcome the inspirational Joanne O’Riordan to the stage on the day. Joanne, who is star of her own documentary, No Limbs No Limits, and is a weekly columnist for The Irish Times addressed the crowd about our choice to be positive, our choice to make the most of the life we have and our choice to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t do.
The feedback from the day has been overwhelming, with messages of gratitude pouring in from all corners of the country. Sarah said the event was to celebrate the daily tasks that some individuals take as normal but that are seen as heroic by the rest of us. The innaugrual event was such a success, they are already planning ahead for next year.