Community spirit helps send Katie to America

An outpouring of generosity and support from the people of Kilkenny has ensured that three-year-old Katie Longeran will be given the chance to see if she can walk.

An outpouring of generosity and support from the people of Kilkenny has ensured that three-year-old Katie Longeran will be given the chance to see if she can walk.

The campaign for Katie was launched at Christmas and since then events have been held around the city and county to help raise the €60,000 needed for the groundbreaking treatment. To date over €45,000 has been raised and her family are confident that the remainder will be raised over the coming months.

Katie, who is from Owning in South Kilkenny, is a surviving twin who was born 15 weeks premature. After her twin Conor passed away, Katie fought a long hard battle to survive. She was diagnosed as profoundly deaf on discharge from hospital and received a cochlear implant in September 2011. At 18 months Katie was officially diagnosed as having cerebral palsy and her family were advised that Katie would never walk.

However her family refused to give up hope and found a new treatment available in the States for which Katie is a suitable candidate. The treatment, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) involves sectioning (cutting) some of the sensory nerve fibers that come from the muscles and enter the spinal cord. Katie’s parents Aisling and John along with her 19-month-old brother Jamie will travel to St Louis’ Childrens Hospital in Missouri next month. Katie will have a pre op assessment on April 1 and surgery on April 4. “I have very mixed emotions. I am really nervous at the thought of her going through more surgery. She has been through so much already but we are very hopeful and excited about the future. It will take a long time but fingers crossed it will all be worth it and she will thank us for doing it when she is older. We are just going to have to take one day at a time,” she said.

“Fundraising is going really well. People are continuing to hold events, do personal challenges and make personal donations. Ticket sales for the Piltown Parish fundraising raffle seem to be going well also,” said Aisling. Tickets for the raffle cost €5 each or a book of three for €10. The raffle will take place on March 8 in the GAA complex and the first prize is €1000.

Katie recently started at the local pre school and is enjoying her new environment. “They had a pancake party in playschool in her honour. It was so sweet. Katie had a ball,” she said. “Plenty of people have expressed an interest in doing the Flora Mini Marathon so hopefully that will help to raise more funds,” she added.

Donations have flooded in from all over the world and events are being held as Katie’s story touches the hearts of those who hear it. “Last week we found out that a nursery in Scotland had held a ‘pyjama party’ and raised £1000 was raised for Katie,” added Aisling.

A fundraising bake sale also took place in Marion Hall in Owning on Sunday which raised a further €285. “I’d like to thank everyone involved. Every event that raises money is another step closer to making Katie’s wish come true,” she added.

There have been several other fundraisers around the county in recent weeks and events have also been held in other parts of the country. Katie and her family recently paid a visit to Cork to meet some of the people involving in fundraising there. “I also want to thank everyone who has lodged directly in the bank account. A lot of these lodgements are anonymous or without details and therefore we can’t respond to thank them personally. We just want to sincerely thank them and let them know how much we appreciate their care and support for Katie,” added Aisling.

Another fundraising event took place at Windgap National School recently where a no uniform day was held which raised €432.15.

Next month a Zumbathon will take place at the Piltown Community Centre on March 23. Join Zumba Instructors from all around Ireland for an afternoon of dancing and fun in aid of Katie’s Wish to Walk. The Zumbathon kicks off at 2pm in what promises to be a fun afternoon with dancing and children’s entertainment. Admission is €2 per child and €10 per adult and there will also be a raffle and spot prizes.

The family plan to fly out on March 29 and Katie is expected to be discharged from hospital on April 9. She will then begin outpatient therapy on April 10 and will continue outpatient physio for three weeks.

Donate at the Bank Of Ireland, Carrick-On-Suir to Katie’s Wish To Walk. Account Number: 19529465 Sort Code: 90-59-69 .