03 Oct 2022

Tipperary fitness buffs raise €5k for mental health charity with transformation challenge

GROW fundraiser

Matt Cooney and his 12 participants in the GROW fundraising challenge

A group of Tipperary fitness enthusiasts have raised almost €5,000 for mental health recovery after undertaking an ‘operation transformation’ style fundraiser.

Personal trainer Matt Cooney from MCfuturefitness in Nenagh put himself and 12 volunteers through their paces as part of a great reveal challenge in aid of the mental health charity GROW.

Matt and his fellow participants unveiled the results of their endeavours in a ‘before’ and ‘after’ photoshoot in Galway city. The novel fundraiser, which was aimed at highlighting the link between physical health and mental wellbeing, raised almost €5,000.

Matt presented the proceeds of the fundraiser to GROW Regional Chairperson, Tommy Kennedy, and Regional Manager, James Quilligan at GROW’s offices in Limerick.

Fitness Factory’s Matt Cooney  signed up 12 eager participants to take part in the fitness challenge to raise funds for GROW and to promote the benefits of exercise on mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Those who signed up for the challenge included Matt’s cousin Brian Cooney, Philip Cullen, Brendan Kelly, Sharon Nagle, Neil Kevin, Thomas O’Connell, Pearse Morris, Louise Hickey, Barry Corcoran, Wayne Cawley, Daryl McGee and Edwina King.

For Matt, the challenge was an important way of raising awareness of GROW as well as opening up the conversation about mental health and the mind-body benefits of exercise.

“One in four people in Ireland will experience some kind of psychological or emotional distress over the course of the coming year. That is why looking after our mental health is such an important issue. By supporting this charity we are helping people directly. I picked GROW as it's very close to home. I also know many people who have been affected by mental health and suicide,” he told the Tipperary Star.

PIC: (l to r) Matt’s mother, Geradline; Matt Cooney of MCFuture Fitness; James Quilligan, GROW Regional Manager; Tommy Kennedy, GROW Regional Chairperson; Mary Purcell, GROW Area Coordinator, and Mackey McKenna, GROW Tipperary

“Mental health is such a big issue in Ireland. It's one of those subjects that often goes unspoken, especially among younger generations. Whether people's silence comes through fear of what other people will think or how they will be looked upon, we wanted to send out a loud message that mental health issues are okay to talk about. We wanted to promote awareness of GROW and let people know that help is out there.

“No matter the situation, we encourage anyone suffering with mental health problems not to suffer in silence, to speak up and get the help they need. One thing I've realised from this journey is to keep going and keep putting out positive messages to try and help people. You never know who is out there listening. We may never realise how many people have been helped throughout this whole journey,” Matt added.

GROW’s Regional Chairperson, Tommy Kennedy, extended the heartfelt thanks of GROW to Matt and his colleagues.

“We are so grateful to you for undertaking this wonderful venture. We have 14 GROW peer-support groups in the region and we hope to develop more groups before the end of the year. I would also like to thank all those who took part in the fundraiser with you and who helped and supported you. We are extremely grateful to you all, and as Nenagh man, I can say that I am very proud of you Matt and all your colleagues. As young people, you are a shining example of what young people can do and you are leaders in our community.”

His words were echoed by Regional Manager, James Quilligan, who extended his sincere thanks toall those who has taken part in the fitness challenge..

“This has been our single biggest fundraiser this year. We thank you so much for your fabulous work, for promoting the important work of GROW and for highlighting the link between physical wellbeing and positive mental health,” said James.

GROW is Ireland's largest community-based mental health organisation and is aimed at promoting positive mental health and recovery. GROW holds over 120 peer support group meetings in communities across Ireland each week including in Aras Follain, Nenagh; Michael Street Community Centre in Tipperary Town, the McAuley Centre, Templemore and other locations across Tipperary. GROW meetings are open to those aged over 18 and are free to attend. For more details on GROW meetings see: or phone the GROW infoline on 1890 474 474.

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