Causeway Chronicle

Marathon’ effort by CAN charity 

An award winning Ballymoney woman was lending her support at the recent Belfast marathon as she helped raise funds for the charity she is employed by.

Tori McIntyre – ruled out of taking part at the last minute through injury – nevertheless joined her fellow colleagues and members on the big day.

All proceeds raised from the marathon effort go to CAN – a unique, user-led charity, supporting young people and adults with learning disabilities, Autism, and mental health issues, based at their new farm at Lislagan in Ballymoney.

CAN works throughout Causeway Coast & Glens and Mid & East Antrim with premises in Ballymoney, Ballymena and Coleraine.

The charity enhances the lives of people by supporting them to become active participants in their local communities and to live their best lives.

Tori is the Base Coordinator for Ballymoney and Project Coordinator for HUB.

She will have been involved in CAN for seven years this August.

“When I finished school, I went onto college to complete my level 3 Health and Social care and during this course I had to pick a placement, so I picked CAN,” explained Tori.

“I always told myself I wanted to work with the elderly or children but when I completed my placement, I knew this is what I want to do.

“I started to volunteer each week which eventually led me to where I am today which is being in full time employment doing a job I love.”

As a Base Coordinator & Project Coordinator, Tori’s role is to support and work alongside young people and adults with learning disabilities, Autism, and mental health to create activities and experiences that promote independence, enhance life skills, and encourage healthy peer relationships.

“I am willing to do everything I can to give our members the best life so if this means I need to take them to a place they have never been to, I will,” stated Tori.

“If they don’t know how to cook or bake, I will show them. In Base and Hub, our members decided on what they want to do and where they want to go, so for example, in the summer I would take them to Curry’s in Portrush to go on all the rides, take them to our farm to do gardening and cover educational topics etc.

“I will always show them they are loved and valued. If Base or Hub needs anything, I will organise fundraising events to show anything is possible.”

In 2023, Tori was awarded the Best Support Worker of Northern Ireland in learning disability.

Anyone who knows her knows this honour this meant the world to her!

“I couldn’t believe it but being honest, if I didn’t get this award, I would still feel like I’ve won, by having the opportunity to work with the best people. My job is my life, and our members are the reason why.”

As CAN is always going the extra mile, staff and some members decided to take on the Belfast Marathon.

So in the heart of Belfast, amidst the bustling city streets, CAN representatives found themselves embarking on a remarkable journey.

“We weren’t just getting ready to run a marathon; we were running for a cause close to our hearts, for our community, and for the betterment of those we serve at CAN (Charity for Adults and Children with Learning Disabilities, Autism, and Mental Health Difficulties),” continued Tori, daughter of well known Coleraine FC Steward Mervyn McIntyre.

“For months we dedicated ourselves to training, pushing our limits, and overcoming obstacles in preparation for the Belfast Marathon.

“Every step taken was not just a stride towards the finish line; it’s a testament to our resilience and determination. Despite the nerves that accompany such a monumental challenge, our commitment remains unwavering.

As the team laced up their running shoes at the starting line, no doubt hearts were beating with anticipation and excitement.

“We carried with us the hopes and dreams of our CAN community, knowing that every mile we conquered will make a difference in the lives of those we support.

“But our journey doesn’t end with the finish line. Every step we take, every drop of sweat shed, and every pound raised will be reinvested back into CAN”.

The funds raised will fuel the development of vital services and projects, enriching the lives of members and ensuring they receive the support they need to thrive.

“To all who generously support CAN, whether through sponsorship or donations, we extend our deepest gratitude,” concluded Tori.

“Your contributions are not just financial; they are a lifeline for individuals and families facing challenges beyond measure. With your help, CAN can continue to make a difference, one step at a time.”

As the sun sets on the Belfast Marathon, the journey may come to an end, but the impact of their collective efforts will resonate far beyond the finish line!

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Michael Anderson