Special Olympics hoping to raise €650,000 for its national fundraising day

Some 3,000 volunteers will be collecting in 250 locations

Special Olympics, fundraising day, volunteers, Rory Best

Image via @belfastcranes on Twitter

Thousands of volunteers are hitting the streets today collecting for the Special Olympics as part of their national fundraising day.

The money will be used to support the programme of sports and training that Special Olympics offers to 9,100 athletes in 360 clubs around the country.

Some 3,000 volunteers will be collecting in 250 locations all over Ireland.

This year they are hoping to raise €650,000 in just 24 hours.

Special Olympics corporate sponsor eir, is supporting the charity.

Carolan Lennon, wholesale managing director with eir, said: "This day will bring in vital funds for the charity, ensuring they can continue to offer their sports and training services in cities, towns and villages all across Ireland".

"eir employees, from Belfast to Cork, will be on the streets in their local communities raising much needed funds for Special Olympics Ireland", she added.

2016 is an exciting year for Special Olympics Ireland, as the organisation rolls out its island-wide area events competition programme - which sees athletes progress from one level of competition to the next.

In addition to competition, a range of training and other opportunities are available for athletes through sports development days and leagues in six sports (athletics, aquatics, basketball, bocce, bowling and football).

Captain of both the Ireland and Ulster rugby teams, Rory Best, is a Special Olympics ambassador.

He made an appeal on Newstalk Breakfast for people to dig deep.