2019 Ambassador: David Gillick

David, Harry, Alex, and Alan all ready to go!

David Gillick- 2019 Ambassador

Irish Olympic Athlete David Gillick has stepped up for the Down Syndrome Centre’s upcoming Challenge 21 event on September 15th. David has been a big supporter of our centre as of recent, and we had the chance to sit down with him and one of our biggest supporters, Lydia Corley for an interview.

Lydia (9) has completed the 21km fundraising event the past two years. Together, they share their thoughts and training tips in anticipation of this year’s Challenge 21 event. They are asking people to rise to the challenge and walk, jog, or run 21km from Booterstown to Howth on Sunday, September 15th in aid of the centre.

Q&A with David & Lydia

Why are you involved in Challenge 21 this year?

DAVID: The way the Down Syndrome Centre is using Challenge 21 as a way to get people involved, families and friends coming together and in an active way while raising funds for a worthwhile charity really inspired me to jump on board.

When I first came down to the centre, I was blown away by the support that was provided not only for the kids, but also the famiiles. I think the more people we can get engaged, the better. I’d love to see centres continue to open across the country that provide these incredible services.

LYDIA: I have done Challenge 21 the past few years to raise money for the centre, while helping raise awareness around Down syndrome. My sister Sophie (8) has Down syndrome and she attends the centre. It’s basically our second home, the people in the centre are very good to Sophie. It makes me really happy to see them help her. This year’s Challenge 21 is special to me as well, because it’s just before my 10th birthday. It would be cool to celebrate being 10 with such a big walk again!

Where does the fundraising go? Why should people take the 21km plunge?

DAVID: I More money equates to more services, more staff, more children and families helped-it’s as simple as that. It’s the quality of life and the indepence the centre helps to teach to children. And not only small children, but teenagers and young adults. These are tanigble things that will really benefit people with Down Syndrome throughout their life.


LYDIA: The Down Syndrome Centre has helped my sister so much. I have watched a lot my sister’s friends who she has made through the centre grow up and really benefit from the therapy and groups offered here. The money goes directly to the services Sophie gets from the centre like Speech and Occupational Therapy.

I’ve never walked or run 21km. Where do I start?

DAVID: Don’t be scared of that big number 21km. Go at a pace that’s right for you, and you will absolutely finish. We’re not asking people to run without proper training. But a good old walk along the sea front never did anyone any harm! Getting a group of friends or family together makes the time go a lot faster and you might have some craic at the finish!


LYDIA: Trying is all you can really do. If you can make it to the halfway point, you can keep going! I’ve been doing the walk since I was 7. So you can too.

What are your top training tips leading up to September 15th?

LYDIA: A balanced diet is my biggest tip. A good breakfast (I eat porrige and berries) goes a long way. And it’s okay to have a treat every once in a while. I had ice cream after Challenge 21 last year, which was the best idea! A good nights sleep before the big day, and drinking plenty of water on the day of and before both really helped me the past few years.


DAVID: I agree with Lydia- a balanced diet with good proteins and carbohydrates is essential. The more colour in your food, the better. We all like treats, but have them when it suits, not all the time. Eat regularly, and hydrate. 2-3 liters of water a day especially leading up to a big event. As for fitness, consistency and working around your schedule seem to work best. Start small and work up from there. I work around my family’s schedule with my workouts. Sometimes 20 minutes is all you might have. You can do amazing stuff in a short time.

What are you most looking forward to for on Sunday, September 15th?

DAVID: Getting people out and active in a fun way, all while raising vital funds for a worthwhile charity. There’s due to be a good bit of fun along the way and I’ve heard about an after party at the end- for big kids and little kids alike.


LYDIA: I’m looking forward to helping make Challenge 21 more kid and family friendly this year. I’ve been working with the team to come up with a few ideas, and it feels good to be included. Espeically with Sophie at the finish line!