Mick McCormack and Michael Ward at the summit of Mount Errigal in Donegal.

Teacher inspired by late cousin to take on peaks challenge

Group aim to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland

Sarah Slevin

Primary school teacher, Michael Ward, has been preparing for his fundraising challenge to climb the highest peaks in each province.

Michael Ward, a teacher at St Joseph’s National School, Rathwire, has decided to raise both money and awareness of muscular dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass, a condition that has no cure and can be fatal.

Michael was inspired by his late cousin Marie to climb four mountains across Ireland in two days, to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland.

“In September 2020, my cousin Marie passed away. Marie was in her 30s, a year older than me, and had been living with muscular dystrophy,” Michael said.

“Not a lot of people know anything about it. Unless it has touched your circle, people don’t know much about it,” Michael said.

From June 18-19, Michael, and his friends, Gary Byrne, and Michael McCormack, from Moyvore, plan to hit the highest peaks in each province and they will be joined by various family members along the way.

Michael descending Slieve Donard at Christmas.

Michael decided on the ‘four peaks in two days’ challenge because of his own active lifestyle and to highlight how lucky he feels to be fit and active.

“I’m active, I run and go to the gym a lot, and any time I find myself grumbling or moaning about going out running, I think of Marie, and it turns into a feeling of gratitude and how lucky we are to do what we do and take for granted,” Michael said.

“What better way to show how grateful we are to be active than by climbing the highest peaks in each province in Ireland,” Michael added.

Michael has planned to start the venture with Carrauntoohill, the highest mountain in Ireland at 1,038.6 metres.

After that, they will travel to take on Mweelrea, the highest in Connacht, followed by Ulster’s highest peak, Sliabh Donard and finally to Lugnaquilla, highest peak in Leinster.

Michael has said they are aiming to raise as much as possible for muscular dystrophy and associated neuromuscular conditions.

“While there is currently no cure for muscular dystrophy, there have been huge advances in improving the quality of life for people with the condition and we are living in more hopeful times for research and the development of treatments and standards of care,” Michael said.

Michael has launched his idonate page and those who wish to donate can do so at www.idonate.ie/MichaelWard.

Artwork by Gary Byrne.