Eugene Hamill, founder of the Irish charity, “Sporting Hearts” participated in the Fortress Tour, a 1000km cycle through Serbia in order to raise money for Roma youth. The Fortress Tour followed the course of the Danube South East, starting from Belgrade’s Kalemegdan Fortress all the way to Ada Ciganlija, known as the “The Belgrade Sea”
The tour took place between July 19 – 21 with several stops at notable historic sites, such as Golubac Fortress, Kladovo Fortress, Šabac Fortress and Petrovaradin Fortress. Eugene’s aim was to raise awareness and contribute funds towards projects being implemented by REF Serbia.
Eugene founded the organization, Sporting Hearts in 2004 as a response to the crisis and conflicts caused by the Yugoslavian wars. “In co-operation with REF, I’m starting a 1000 km long bike ride to raise awareness on the work of our organizations and to fundraise for our projects. Although this may seem like a small project to someone, when looking at a wider picture, it has the potential to open the doors of higher education and give a wider choice of careers. Because to these children it all looks like a distant dream, accessible only to the rich and privileged ones, and it should not be like that. I would like to thank REF for their support and encouragement from the very beginning of this mission”, Eugene Hamill stated on the morning of the journey just before he was scheduled to start.
Sporting Hearts and REF have been in cooperation since 2007, jointly giving out scholarships and educational materials to about 100 children from the Kotež region. REF supports the facilitation of the children’s enrolment in schools and the two organization jointly facilitate yearly field trips with beneficiaries throughout Serbia.
“It is our great pleasure to see Eugene Hamill in Belgrade today realising his humanitarian mission. Roma Education Fund has successfully cooperated with Eugene’s organization, Sporting Hearts for years and this bicycle tour through Serbia is just a new occasion for our joint action. We cooperate and support each other in activities and campaign implementation, because we very often have common beneficiaries from Roma communities. It is very important that support to children is the focus of this project, and the goal of Roma Education Fund is to contribute to closing the gap in educational outcomes between Roma and non-Roma through the implementation of different strategies and programs”, program manager of Roma Education Fund, Nataša Kočić-Rakočević stated.
Eugene completed the 1000 km journey on the evening of July 21 and took a well-deserved dip in Ada lake. During his 18 hours a day cycle, he sustained a hand injury and rode the second half using only one hand. As a result, the middle part of the planned route was left out, however Eugene still managed to complete the journey with his injury.
Around 30 people, including beneficiaries, bystanders and volunteers, cheered on as he crossed the finish line. Shortly after, Eugene presented Sporting Heart’s annual Person of the Year award to Edisona Gasi, a young girl from Kotež, who successfully fought for her right to attend school while battling a serious health condition.
For more information about Sporting Hearts please click here:
For footage of the event and media please see below: (Serbian language)
TV PRVA .