A friend in need is a friend indeed. John O’Hanlon is proving himself just that friend indeed as he gears up to cycle the length of Ireland to raise funds for his friend who has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease.
Paul Smith lives in Weir View, Kilkenny, with his wife Natasha and their children Holly (12) and James (eight). Originally from England, he moved here with his Kilkenny wife, achieved a doctorate in sports science with Waterford Institute of Technology and went on to work in the field of improving health and performance of employees.
Earlier this year Paul, who is 45, noticed he was losing feeling in his right hand. He booked a diagnosis in a Dublin hospital and learnt that he had Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
With that diagnosis, in April, Paul’s world, and that of his young family, turned upside down.
John, who is Natasha’s uncle, explained that MND is a neurodegenerative disease with no known cure.
Time is not on Paul’s side, for 50% of sufferers life expectancy from diagnosis is less than three years.
The disease will impact on Paul’s ability to use his limbs. He will require a course of expensive drug treatments to maintain his mobility for as long as possible. MND creates a number of urgent new needs such as: the requirement for suitable accommodation to assist Paul’s imminent mobility issues; the need for bespoke transport to allow Paul to travel within Kilkenny; and specialised home care.
Funds that John raises will help allay some of the enormous costs that Paul’s family will now face.
The Irish Motor Neuron Association,(IMDA) has provided Paul and his family with fantastic assistance to date and 25% of all funds raised will be sent to the charity. Paul will continue to draw upon their support. You can also help by making a donation to IMNDA at IMND.ie.
Above: John O'Halloran after a 60mile training cycle in advance of his Malin to Mizen challenge!
John, an amateur cyclist, is currently undertaking an intensive training programme and plans to cycle from Malin Head in Donegal to Mizen Head in Cork, during the week of August 14, as part of his fundraising effort to help Paul and his family.
John says Paul and his young family require urgent funds to start meeting the greatest challenge of his life, for more please visit https://gofund.me/33ae7985.
Inspired by his own sports science professional background, Paul hopes to launch his own fundraising charity in the coming months.
Following his diagnosis, many family and friends wanted to help Paul. They are planning one or two annual events that Paul and Natasha will be involved with, as well as their own fundraisers.
Paul is working on setting up a charity that will support people with neurodegenerative diseases, help them with lifestyle choices and being able to stay at work for as long as possible.
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