by Patrick Hayes
A disabled County Mayo man has undertaken a tandem skydive to raise money for his favourite charity, Mary’s Meals.
Brave Padraig Keogh took the plunge on April 6th at Clonbullogue Airfield in Offaly (Irish Parachute Club), the day before his 45th birthday.
Padraig, who was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, has dedicated much of his time over the past five years volunteering for Mary’s Meals, which runs school feeding projects in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The charity currently provides over 860,000 children with a daily meal in a place of learning, attracting them to the classroom where they receive education that could one day lift them out of poverty.
Padraig is hoping his fearless efforts will help to raise enough money to feed an entire school in Africa with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year.
The former orthopaedic technician says: "I was drawn to Mary’s Meals in particular because of its authenticityit is run by people with a genuine desire to help others and most of the work is undertaken by volunteers".
“The small number of staff the charity does employ are given modest salaries and at least 93 cents of every Euro donated is spent directly on charitable activities.”
Padraig, who grew up in Blanchardstown and now lives in Mayo, added: “It’s pretty amazing to be part of something that makes such a difference to more than 860,000 children across the developing world. Put it this way—I would never have signed up to a skydive if it wasn’t for such a good cause.”
Padraig volunteers for Mary’s Meals by driving the length and breadth of the country picking up donated backpacks from schools, churches, community groups and individuals all over Ireland, using a modified van which was kindly donated by a local company.
It costs Mary’s Meals a global average of just €14.50 to feed a child for an entire school year. The charity recently opened an office in Ireland, following tremendous support from community fundraisers who have raised over €1.3 million so far to support the charity’s work.