Archive for Fundraiser

[VIDEO] The COA Sings On TV and experiences a Wardrobe Malfunction

In what was America’s biggest musical-television ratings smash since Glee, the Cycle of America team threw a musical fundraiser in Austintown, Ohio that was captured by two local TV news crews.

O’Donold’s Irish Pub kindly let Rob “Yossarian Lives” Shiels from Irish band Brazen Lungs play a set to raise money for the Livestrong Foundation. Watch the video to see him and young troubadour Mark Leonard in action!

Plus, stay tuned to the end to witness a sartorial error on the part of the COA’s wardrobe department.

Watch the video

For more on Yossarian Lives, visit Yossarian Lives on Bandcamp

For more on Brazen Lungs, visit

Cycle of America 2010 Finishing Celebration.

On the 18th of September, we arrived at the Doyle Dupont Hotel in Washington DC from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay – travel-stained, weary, fatigued but also bouyed up by the growing realisation that we had done it! We had cycled thousands of miles across the continental United States, from Seattle on the west coast to Washington DC in the east.

We were received a great welcome thanks to our gracious hosts at the Doyle Dupont, particularly manager Scott Dawson. The celebratory bash was organised by Irish businessman Shane Young and was also attended by representatives from the Irish Embassy in DC, Myles Geiran and Martina Monaghan. There was also an old friend in attendance – Carol Rascon, who we had first met all the way back in Butte, Montana!

Food and drink was complimentary so the famished Irishmen ate and drank their fill most gratefully! Speeches then followed, from Shane and Scott, praising the whole team for their achievement in cycling across the country and raising well over $30,000 for cancer charities. Myles from the embassy followed up with a speech of his own and presented the cyclists with green jerseys from the Irish Embassy!

The generous guests also donated to the charity and $500 were raised, which was a pleasant surprise! All in all it was a great welcome for the team and it was especially gratifying to get official recognition from the Irish Embassy.

We’d like to thank everyone who helped to organise the night and those who came out to support us, and everyone who supported us before and during the trip. Your generosity made this endeavour possible.

Thank you,

Mark, Eoin, William, Rob and Donal.

Steeling Myself for Pittsburgh.

We reached Cleveland on Friday the 10th of September, where we would be spending the next two nights. Accommodation was kindly organised by Mark and Marie Owens. Saturday, our rest day, was in fact when the Pittsburgh Irish festival was taking place two 130 miles down the road. So intrepid travllers that we are, we got up early on Saturday and drove to Pittsburgh to raise money at the festival, where a stall had been organised for us by the Pittsburgh Irish Center.

After some horrendous traffic and spectacular views of the city, we reached the festival and spent a few hours fundraising there. Thanks to organiser, Nan and the band, Scythian, we got up on the main stage to plug the cycle! Eoin gave a great speech about the cause to get people to come to our stall.  We also bumped into Ruaidhrí Makem, a son of the famous Tommy Make, who Rob had also met back at the Irish Festival in Butte, Montana. A nicer fella you couldn’t meet!  Unfortunately we had to leave to head back to Cleveland for the next morning’s cycling. As this was proving to be a great event for us, I volunteered to stay in Pittsburgh and keep raising money until Monday, when the guys would cycle into town. Matt and Beth Carroll of the Irish Center very kindly agreed to put me up until then, and they would also be accommodating the lads when they next arrived. After saying goodbye to the lads I stayed on at the festival and managed to raise lots of money for the Livestrong Foundation, thanks to the generosity of the public at the Pittsburgh Irish festival.

I met some great people there, such as Alisha from the Irish Center and Mary Conroy of the Burke Conroy School of Irish Dance, who really took me under their wing and made me feel welcome. Things started to wrap up around 9pm, helped by a sudden downpour, so I hightailed it over the the Harp & Fiddle for the afterparty!

The pub was packed and absolutely hopping, with a great atmosphere in the place. I met Matt Carroll there and he introduced me to the band, Corned Beef and Curry, so called because it’s composed of two Irish lads and an Indian fella (Bob, a fantastic musician!). The lads kindly invited me up on stage where I made a speech about the cycle, which seemed to go down well! Afterwards I was bombarded by people throwing tens and twenties at me, I couldn’t believe it! Altogether I raised $831 that day, which is our best result ever from a single fundraiser in the USA.

The next, Sunday, I hit the festival again, although it was very quite that day, partly due to the fact that a Steelers game was on! Mary Conroy managed to get me up on the main stage in the middle of the Irish dancing so I made a quick speech. The crowd were friendly, thankfully! After that I ran around the audience with the bucket and people contributed quite kindly.

On Monday the guys rolled into town, after some serious, ahem, detours, which included a jaunt through West Virginia, a state hitherto not technically part of the Cycle of America. They were met at the Carroll’s House by Joanne, a reporter from the local paper who interviewed us and took pictures. We had a lovely evening, entertained by Matt and Beth and their friends Larry and Posey who cooked an exceptionally tasty dinner for us. Thanks guys!

On Tuesday we headed to the Map Room Bar and Grill for our music night fundraiser. It’s a really cool bar decorated with prints of old maps on the wall. History nerds like me would love it! I also recommend it for the great food and ambience.  Music was provided by Brazen Lungs, Guaranteed Irish and Michael Gallagher. Andy Stewart from band Silly Wizards also joined in. The music was really excellent, making it a thoroughly enjoyable evening. People donated generously in whip-rounds and also bought tickets for a treat-filled hamper provided by Marjie, the owner – who gave generously herself I might add, on top of everything else she did for us. She also gave all the proceeds from the sale of “Pedal Pale Ale” directly to the charity. We raised over $800 that night, bringing our Pittsburgh total up to $1776, a whopping and auspicious figure indeed!

Thanks to Matt and Beth Carroll, Gavin, Posey and Larry, Alisha, Mary Conroy, the Pittsburgh Irish Center, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Guaranteed Irish, Corned Beef & Curry, Mike Gallagher, Marjie at the Map Room and everyone else who helped us! Pittsburgh rocks!

We also bumped into Ruaidhrí Makem, a son of the famous Tommy Makem, who Rob had also met back at the Irish Festival in Butte, Montana. A nicer fella you couldn’t meet! Things started to wrap up around

[VIDEO] Day 34: Fundraiser in the Tilted Kilt

On September 3rd, the cyclists were met with a wonderful reception at the Clock Tower Resort in Rockford, Illinois. It was followed by a fundraising party in the Tilted Kilt, which featured Irish dancing, Irish music and more!

Plus, stay tuned to witness the lads being interviewed by yet another TV station!

Watch the video

Chicago Fundraiser

On the Saturday the 4th of September we headed over to the Irish Oak pub on North Clark Street, Chicago. Our fundraiser there was organized by the talented Lauren Duchscher of the Big Onion Tavern Group and Brendan at the Irish Oak. They managed to get Jameson and New Belgium to donate free whiskey and beer for the night!

Pub-goers paid $5 in exchange for a ticket which would get them two drinks. This was an extremely clever and extremely popular way to raise money! From the ticket sales and the guys and girls at the Irish Oak a record $826 were raised for Livestrong!

We had one of our best nights out yet, with shots of Jameson flying around left, right and centre!

The Clock Tower Resort and the Tilted Kilt, Rockford, IL

We had our best welcome yet at the Clocktower resort and Tilted Kilt pub in Rockford, Illinois!

The lads cycled in to town and were met by a welcoming committee of Irish dancers, reporters from all 4 major TV networks and of course, the lovely girls from the Tilted Kilt.

The Irish Dancers kicked off the festivities, with the Danny Boyz keeping the party going throughout the evening. The staff at the Tilted Kilt continually plugged our cause to their customers, raising loads of money. Anyone who donated got to put their name in a draw for a free night at the Clocktower resort, or a day at the waterpark.

Thanks to the band (The Danny Boyz), the Irish dancers (McNulty Irish Dancers and the Irish Marching Society), Wendi for organizing it, Andrea, and all the staff at the Tilted Kilt. $362 were raised, so thank you to all the kind people who donated!

St. Peter Fundraiser.

$190 was raised last night in Patrick’s Irish pub in St. Peter, Minnesota. Talented singer/songwriter Rob Shiels of Brazen Lungs (coincidentally, also of Cycle of America 2010) performed a varied musical set and entertained the patrons of Patrick’s.

The wonderful staff went out of their way to help us. They loaned us a guitar and donated $2 from every pint of guinness bought that night. They even fed and watered us!

A huge thank you to John Mayer the owner, Brian the manager, Mathias, and the rest of the staff at Patrick’s. You guys are awesome!

Spearfish Pancake Breakfast.

On the 20th of August we crossed over into our fifth state, South Dakota, amid rolling countryside and the occasional red, rock mesa which gave way to the larger, forested hills around the town of Spearfish. We made for Rimrock Lodge in the idyllic Spearfish Canyon, where we were met up with Jesse Ziebart who runs the lodge, and her friend, Andi. They whipped us up a tasty, home-cooked dinner of stuff peppers. We spent the rest of day preparing for the pancake breakfast fundraiser at thelodge the next morning. That night we drove the nearby historic town of Deadwood where we handed out flyers for the fundraiser, collected some money and even sampled the local nightlife!

The next morning we were up early to drop the cyclists into town. We headed to the park and met John from the Spearfish Bicycle co-op and a large group of local cyclists who had come for our charity bike ride from Spearfish City Park out to Rimrock Lodge. So, we cycled with the group out to the lodge and got stuck into the pancake and bacon breakfast prepared by Laurie and her husband Richard, along with Jessie and Andi. We chatted to the friendly locals who had come to the breakfast, and local reporter Kaija Swisher who was covering the Cycle for the Black Hills Pioneer paper.

After the breakfast the first official premiere of the Cycle of America movie was shown on a projector, to the hopefully fascinated audience! We answered questions from the audience, then said our goodbyes as the event wound down. We’d like to thank all the local businesses who donated goods or money to this event, it would not have been possible without their support. I can’t emphasize enough how grateful we are to Jesse Ziebart for the huge amount of work she put into organising this event for us. Thank you Jesse!
The hard work done, we relaxed at Spearfish Water Park to escape from the 40 degree heat!

Thanks again to Jesse, Andi, Laurie, Richard and everyone else who helped out.

We haven’t got the final tally of money raise yet, but it’s definitely over $500! Woohoo!

My Butte Side-Quest

My stall at An Rí Rá Irish Festival

I have just been reunited with the rest of the team following a three-day semi-solo fundraising effort in Butte, Montana.  And now, to explain:

Several months ago I contacted the Montana Gaelic Cultual Society regarding charity fundraising.  Each year, the Society holds An Rí Rá Irish Festival in the city of Butte, a 3-day celebration of Ireland’s culture and its connections with Montana.  The organisers of the festival showed great interest in our trip, and generously offered us a free booth at which to collect money and also free accommodation while in Butte.

The one snag was that we were scheduled to pass through the city the previous Wednesday, missing the festival by days.  After much deliberation amongst the lads, it was agreed that I would stay in Butte from Wednesday to Sunday, set up the booth on Saturday and collect all day.  Relief would come from Donal and Eoin, who volunteered to drive 230 miles back from Billings, Montana to man the stall Saturday evening, an offer made all the more impressive by Eoin having to cycle from Big Timber to Billings that same morning!  A big thanks to Eoin and Donal for making the effort.

Patrice and Colleen examine the route tattooed on my back

The days went thusly:

Wednesday: I see that Mark has already blogged about Wednesday.  It was the one night in Butte that the five of us were together.  A big thanks to Patrice Evans and Casey Johnston for putting us all up, and to Patrice again for bringing us to her company picnic at Theresa’s house.

Thursday: I joined the ranks of volunteers who were setting up the Rí Rá festival site on Park Street.  With three stages and a plethora of tents to raise, the festival’s volunteers are a hard-working and dedicated bunch.  I met a lot of great people that day, and had a great night at the launch reception that night in the Finlen Hotel.

Friday: Following a morning and afternoon of the usual COA admin work, it was off to the festival.  I got the chance to see some of the bands and meet more locals.  The day was capped off with a trad session in the Finlen Hotel.

Macker, the (Thankfully) Clothed Cowboy

Saturday: The big day.  I arrived at Park Street circa 11.30, and, with the help of Teresa, I had the stall ready to go at midday.  From 12 o’clock until 7.30 that evening, I waved the Livestrong bucket around, handed out our business cards and gave the whole COA spiel to all passers-by.  It was a great opportunity to meet the festival goers, who all showed great generosity and an enthusiastic interest in the cycle.  I was kept entertained throughout the day by my fellow Rí Rá volunteers, who stopped for a chat whenever they passed by.

The moment everyone was waiting for came circa 7.30, when Donal and Eoin arrived following their 230 mile drive.  The three of us then manned the stall until 11.30 when the festival wrapped up for the night.  Of course, the craic was only just beginning in the Finlen Hotel, where we mixed and mingled with the people of Butte ’til the early hours.

My tired self in the car on the way back to Billings on Sunday

I’d like to thank all the people who helped the team and I during our respective days in Butte.  Thanks again to Patrice and Casey for the accommodation; thanks to Monica Cavanaugh and Patrice for staying in touch with us these past few months and helping us make it happen.  Thanks to all in the Montana Gaelic Cultural Society, and thanks to everyone who donated over the weekend, giving a total of $549 to the Livestrong Foundation.  Finally, thank you to everyone for making me feel very welcome in Butte, including Monica, Rick, Patrice, Imelda, Patrick, Teresa, Theresa, Cody, John, Carol and everybody else I met.  Admittedly, until we started planning the Cycle of America, I had never heard of Butte, but this wonderful home-away-from-home is now firmly pinned on my map.

Macker, the (Thankfully) Clothed Cowboy

Tesco Collection – MASSIVE THANK YOU!!!

We just want to say a massive thank you to Sharon Boland ( Williams lovely girlfriend!!) his uncle Thomas Hollingsworth and sister Katie Kerwin  for organising and doing the collection for us in Tesco in Wicklow Town. They were collecting from 9 oclock to 5 oclock on saturday 14th and raised 921 euro . We really appreciate all the help and support.