herald

Friday 20 September 2019

Pals to scale 26 peaks in a week to help little Kal

Mark Lacey with Kal Jennings
Mark Lacey with Kal Jennings

Dubliners Mark Lacey and Martin Walsh are preparing to climb 26 mountains in a week to raise funds for a toddler's surgery.

Three-year-old Kal Jennings was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy and periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), a brain injury which affects premature infants.

Both illnesses affect his muscle control and co-ordination, and make it difficult for Kal to walk.

Fitness experts Mark and Martin have pledged to help raise money for surgery in the US which would allow him to walk freely.

The pair are trying to raise money for the tot despite being no relation to the little boy.

Harder

"His mum comes into my gym and we got talking about her son and how much they needed to raise for this surgery," said Mark.

"Once we heard, the first thing I thought was what can we do to help?

"We sat down and decided we were going to climb three mountains in Kerry to raise money for him, but then we thought we should do a harder challenge to represent the difficulties Kal goes through.

"We plan over seven days to climb the highest peaks, mountains and hills in all 32 counties - 26 peaks in all as six are shared peaks in Ireland."

The pair will begin their challenge at 5.30am, climbing Co Donegal's Mount Errigal before hitting five more mountains that day alone, not finishing until 11.45pm that night.

"We finish at Dublin's highest peak on August 18."

Kal's surgery would be carried out in the St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri and costs around €120,000. The surgery is recommended between the ages of two and four, which is why the race is on to raise the money now.

Mark and Martin aim to raise €10,000 to go toward the procedure. Over half the money needed, €65,000, has already been raised by Kal's local community.

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