The No Barriers Foundation in Donegal is stepping into the festive spirit with a Walkathon
The Letterkenny-based non-profit organisation breaks down barriers to rehabilitation and
exercise for people with disabilities in the North West.
On December 10, they will be breaking down another barrier when they turn their favourite
Christmas fundraiser into a virtual event on Facebook.
All day, inspirational No Barriers exercisers will be using the group’s state-of the-art exoskeleton
to complete a 6,000 step walkathon in the No Barriers Centre at Mountain Top Letterkenny. The
six participants are all weekly users of the exoskeleton suit and are undergoing specialist
community rehab for conditions such as spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.
Walkathon participant Ciara Devenney was using a wheelchair this time last year, but this
Christmas she is back on her feet after making remarkable progress with No Barriers.
Having sustained injuries in a car accident, Ciara, 32, from Annagry, came to No
Barriers with just a flicker of movement in her right leg. She trained in the exoskeleton suit for a number of months, now she has progressed to a variety of specialised rehab equipment and physiotherapy.
Ciara says: “When I came out of hospital there was no plan.
“It was such a relief when I found out about No Barriers, it couldn’t believe there was
somewhere I could go for help.
“Only for them, I would still be sitting in the chair.”
Mary Gallagher, 19, has also been stepping closer to her goals with No Barriers.
No Barriers has been a game-changer for the young Gaoth Dobhair woman, who suffered a
back injury as a teenager and lost the power in her right leg. She has been learning to walk
again with exoskeleton therapy and physiotherapy with the team of in-house physiotherapists
and exercise therapists.
“No Barriers has helped me strengthen my body and get me healthy and strong enough to go
back to college to do my nursing course. They’ve given me back so much confidence and self
esteem that I’d lost and given me the belief that I can do anything I set my mind to,” Mary says.
“Thanks to them, I’m back in college training to be a nurse, something that without their help
and support wouldn’t have been possible.”
No Barriers Foundation Chairman Johnny Loughrey is inviting everyone to tune into the
Walkathon on Facebook on Thursday 10th December and see the life-changing impact of the
organisation:“No Barriers has been leading the way in delivering neuro-rehab support to people
with stroke, MS, brain injury or spinal cord injury in the community in Donegal. We were delighted to open The No Barriers Centre at FitHub Letterkenny at the start of the year. Since then, we have faced the challenges of Covid-19. Fortunately, we have been able to continue delivering one-to-one physiotherapy at the centre, but our fundraising has been greatly affected.
“We are reliant on donations and fundraising to meet the €120,000 annual cost of running our
services. We would encourage everyone to take a minute this Thursday to watch the Walkathon
on Facebook and support us in any way you can. We would like to say a huge thanks to everyone that’s helped get us through this difficult time, to date. The committees and staff on the ground have been amazing. Obviously it’s been challenging to operate our services in the current pandemic but when we see what it means to all those coming through the doors each week it motivates everyone
involved to keep pushing and driving No Barriers forward.
Johnny continues: “The biggest thanks of all has to go to our amazing No Barriers exercisers
who have adapted and continue to work hard at their rehab breaking down barriers every day.”
How you too can support
The No Barriers Walkathon will be shared online via The No Barriers Foundation Facebook
page to adhere to current guidelines, with the public invited to support the event by sponsoring
walkers on GoFundMe (Search: No Barriers Walkathon 2020). Every person who donates will
be entered into a draw for the chance to win a Christmas hamper generously sponsored by
Kelly’s Centra Mountain Top.
Find out more about The No Barriers Foundation on www.nobarriers.ie
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