What an epic experience!!! We had a fantastic opportunity in Trim on Saturday 11th May to get involved as a school in this inaugural event in our town. The opportunity arose for 4th and 5th year students to come on board as volunteers. Some had done the 5km walk elsewhere in previous years, while some had zero experience of Darkness Into Light. All considered it, and 22 girls signed up for the event.
At 3.15am everyone from our school group had clocked in at GAA Headquarters to await instructions. Having met with some of the local DIL committee, we were sent outside to experience the atmosphere as tens, hundreds and eventually over three thousand runners and walkers flooded down the hill to the stage area outside the GAA centre. We listened to the sentiments of guest speakers from our community, who spoke personally about the importance of the work of Pieta House and similar services like it. With a new found energy the drones above us captured the countdown as the runners took off up the hill to make DIL history in Trim. Walkers of all ages filed through the gateway and in jovial spirits began their experience in earnest. As the crowds cleared the volunteers on site made their way indoors once more. A cup of tea, a laugh and a chat had us looking forward to the return of the masses. Some girls were assigned to the refreshment distribution when the participants returned. The remaining group made their way to the entrance of the GAA grounds, where, as Assistant Marshalls, they cheered and welcomed the participants back to base. So many acknowledged emotionally, the warmth and encouragement of that greeting upon their return. As daylight broke and the rising sun enveloped the town, the magnitude of the event dawned on us. 5.30am came and little groups of our volunteers began to sign out and meet up with their families to share stories on the way home. A feeling of connection to something much bigger than Trim, than Meath, even bigger than Ireland, settled on our volunteers. As tired bodies headed home in the morning light, we all felt a connection with Pieta House. It is ok not to be ok, and it is alright to ask for help.
Until next year, we thank all those in our school community who step up to the call to volunteer. As always it is a privilege to give, for we don’t know when we may need to receive.