Six-year-old Harry O’Hanlon has become a real little hero in his hometown of Kinsale where, last September, he began primary school.
Diagnosed with autism three years ago, Harry, from Summercove, attended the Rainbow Club Centre for Autism in Mahon, along with the Shine Centre for Autism and Sonas (special junior school), both based in Carrigaline.
Aided by his parents Ricky and Martina and his sister Chloe (4), Harry embarked on a fundraising cycle to show his and his family’s appreciation of the three centres.
During July and bearing in mind that he had no prior experience of cycling on public roads, Harry, accompanied by his family, cycled 3km each day reaching his target of 100km. The fundraising journey that began in Kinsale brought him to many places, including Fota Wildlife Park and Clonakilty, culminating in another trip around Kinsale where gardaí and two fire tenders from the Kinsale Fire Brigade provided a fitting escort to the finish at the Blue Haven Hotel, where well-wishers greeted Harry and his many friends.
In the process he raised over €30,000 and then, joined by his parents and grandparents, presented cheques to the value of €10,191.67 to each of the three centres.
Ricky O’Hanlon told The Southern Star: ‘The whole experience has developed his inner confidence. In the past couple of years, he was very much a boy that would stay within his shell.
‘This has certainly given him an outlet to express himself and bring out some of his characteristics. He is much more engaging and going around Kinsale, he is now very well-known because of the cycle.’
Ricky added: ‘Harry never got to finish his early intervention in the way we would have liked, he probably missed out on a few months of development due to Covid-19, but the cycle gave him a focus that allowed him develop.’