Paralympics Ireland has launched a new campaign drive ahead of Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Paralympics Ireland has marked the announcement of their 56-strong Athlete Panel by launching a new awareness and fundraising campaign entitled "More Than Sport".

The campaign, which features a number of athletes who sit on the panel, is aimed at raising funds for the Irish team in the build-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

More Than Sport will include a behind the scenes look into the life of athletes, with the public in the country encouraged to donate €4 (£3.15/$4.40) by texting PARA to 50300.

"More Than Sport is a new awareness and fundraising initiative we’ve launched this year as we prepare for the Rio 2016 Games, where we hope to see Ireland’s athletes do us proud on the international stage, with the tricolour soaring high and medals and Lifetime Bests to celebrate," said Liam Harbison, CEO of Paralympics Ireland.

"But behind those medals, there’s more, behind those world records, there’s more and it’s that something more that is the true essence of this campaign.

"Paralympic athletes are more than elite athletes.

"They are elite athletes who have achieved and succeeded against all the odds.

"They are athletes who have faced adversity, and won.

"They are athletes who have often been told they can’t, to then go on and prove that in fact, they can.

"Over the coming weeks and months we will be bringing you more, as we take you behind the scenes to meet these athletes, hear their stories and come behind them to support them all the way to Rio. It’s an extremely exciting and inspirational campaign and we hope that the public will also get behind the text fundraising element of the campaign too in the coming months.”

The athletes panel covers ten different sports on the Paralympic programme with quadruple Paralympic champion sprinter Jason Smyth among them.

"Irish athletes will go to Rio this September and compete against approximately 4,350 athletes from 176 countries for glory over the course of 11 days,” said Paralympics Ireland Performance Director Dave Malone.

"With this panel, we will be able to ring fence added support around these athletes in order to help them to achieve their full potential on the international stage.”