By Tara Rippin • 28 August 2020 • 18:15
NO MEAN FEAT: Oscar walked 300km in 12 days. CREDIT: Niamh O'Sheehan
Truly inspirational Oscar O’Sheehan, 11, has completed his mammoth fundraising challenge to raise funds to create a sensory garden on the Costa Blanca in record time.
The huge-hearted young boy from Denia has walked the final stages of the Camino de Santiago – 300 kilometres – with ever-supportive mum Niamh, raising more than €3,000 for the special facility at the La Xara Occupational and Day Centre.
And while the feat was expected to take 15 days, the pair completed it in 12, walking an average of 25 km every day.
Niamh told Euro Weekly News: “We got home yesterday (Thursday, August 27) and we’re absolutely shattered. You just keep going when you’re walking, you can’t let it get to you, but as soon as you stop it hits you.
“We didn’t have a day off and walked eight hours a day, we would eat sleep and get out there again. Oscar was great and did so well.
“We’re thrilled to have completed the walk in 12 days as there’s a lot of difficult terrain, mountains, rocky roads and dirt paths, as well as towns and villages.
“Oscar and I are very close anyway, but it has been a wonderful bonding experience and I have learned a lot about the things that Oscar is interested in as we talked the whole way.”
BONDING: Oscar and mum Niamh chatted their way through the challenge. CREDIT: Niamh O’Sheehan
Fortunately there were no serious injuries along the way, but plenty of blisters and Niamh pulled her calves.
“For Oscar it was not so complicated physically, it was more emotionally, dealing with the boredom of walking for so long,” explained Niamh.
DETERMINED: Oscar walked on average 25 km every day. CREDIT: Niamh O’Sheehan
The venture began two years ago when Oscar asked his mum if he could walk the Camino Santiago.
“That’s not like going for any old walk, it’s a pilgrimage!” said mum-of-three Niamh, a well-known singer on the Costa Blanca.
In October 2018 and October 2019 determined Oscar covered 470 kms of his incredible challenge. The plan was that in October 2020 Oscar would tackle the final 300-plus kilometres of the camino from Leon to Santiago de Compostela.
“However, as we all know, 2020 hasn’t quite gone to plan,” said Niamh.
To avoid Oscar missing more school after months of lockdown, it was decided he would walk his final 300 km of the Camino Santiago through the tricky tracks and trails of Galicia in the very early mornings of August, having started his trek on Friday, August 14.
As they set off, Niamh told EWN: “Oscar’s fundraiser has been incredible. Truly heartwarming. We really can’t thank you all enough. And donations continue to fly in. It’s not too late.”
Previously Oscar campaigned for sponsorship when he set himself the challenge two years ago, and with the help of the local community and generous friends of the family, he was able to buy a much needed electric hoist for the local La Pedrera rehabilitation centre AND he also scraped together the money to donate a new pair of trainers for all 60-plus residents at the men’s shelter in Gandia.
The idea to create a sensory garden came about after a visit to the Occupational & Day Care centre in La Xara where he saw first-hand the “vitality and importance of this place”.
Oscar instantly decided that if he could raise a bit of money from his walk, then this was where he’d like to direct it.
“He loved the happy vibe and walked away so certain that they deserve ALL our support,” said Niamh.
Oscar asked Director of the Centre, Ana, “how can I help?” and she explained that they often dream about installing a sensory garden adapted for special needs.
With a budget tighter than ever, practical priorities come first, but Oscar is determined to help – and you can still help too.
“We now have to build the sensory garden,” said Niamh. “A lot of thought needs to go into that and we need to have expertise.
“We will need help making sure its suitable for the needs of the centre. If there are any architects who can help, tradespeople, garden centres and building supplies companies who could possible donate their time or materials, that would be fantastic.
“We want to move with this quickly, and are hoping the whole process will take about a week.”
You can help Oscar realise his dream by donating at www.helpofdenia.com
Alternatively, contact Niamh O’Sheehan on 676 507 791.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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