Following the untimely death of ‘football-mad’ youngster Stephen McElroy earlier this year, his family have established a charity to commemorate the eleven-year-old’s love of life and sport.
The first event of the Stephen McElroy Appreciation and Remembrance Team is a Pedal Go-Cart Run which will take place on Saturday, November 21 in Leitrim, to raise funds for a sports pitch and Cruse Bereavement Care.
“Stephen had such an energy for life,” said Pattie McElroy, Stephen’s mum.
“We wanted to remember this energy and celebrate it and that is how SMART (NI) came into being.”
“The idea first came about when discussing the possibility of building a sports pitch beside Stephen’s school, St Mary’s Primary School in Dechomet, in memory of Stephen - given his love for sport.
“We decided to fundraise to cover the costs of building the pitch to be used by pupils of the school and the idea grew from there.
“Not only will the money raised at SMART (NI) fundraising events go towards building the pitch which is due to be completed by the end of next year, it will also go to Cruse Bereavement Care.
“The organisation provides free counselling and support to families who have suffered a loss. They have been an immense shoulder of support for our family and we recognise the need for services like this in the community for others dealing with bereavement.”
Stephen was just eleven years old when he suddenly passed away in March.
An avid sports fan he had a particular love for Gaelic, Soccer and Rugby. His love of sports reached fever pitch when he played for Down in the half time performance game against Galway in early March at Pairc Elser.
His football talents were not just confined to the Gaelic pitch and he was a key player for Rathfriland Under 11s, his skills on the pitch helping his team reach the final stages of the Mid Ulster Shield.
He was looking forward to turning his feet to rugby as he was due to start St Colmans, Newry in September.
The charity and its sports focus is a natural fit for the family. As a young boy Stephen was ‘outdoorsy’ in all walks of life with a sense of humour.
The Pedal Go-Cart Run takes place on November 21 from 11am - 4pm in the Leitrim GAA Grounds, Backaderry Road. The event is open to children aged 4-13 and entry cost £4 for one child, £6 for two and a third child goes free.
The event is a fun filled family day out with spot prizes, children’s entertainment and snacks on the day.
Entry forms are available from schools, shops and outlets in the local area or by contacting the charity through the Facebook page www.facebook.com/smartni.
If you are interested in hosting a fundraiser for SMART (NI) or taking part in any other upcoming events please contact the charity through the Facebook page.