Charity Wheelchair Push launched at Shannon Airport

Charity Wheelchair Push launched at Shannon Airport

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Clare teenager Nicole Norton with some of her transition year peers at Shannon Airport today preparing for the 50km wheelchair push around the Clare coast next weekend to raise awareness and funds for the Clare Crusaders centre. Photograph by Eamon Ward

A Clare teenager with cerebral palsy will brave the pain barrier to be pushed 50km in a loop from the county’s west coast next weekend, just months after serious spinal surgery.

Nicole Norton has convinced over 100 of her Transition Year peers, plus teachers, from around the county to push her along the challenging, undulating route in West Clare to raise awareness and funds for the Clare Crusaders centre.

The centre was founded eight years ago by her mother Ann and others to deliver key therapies to children with special needs and does so now for over 350 children annually across Co. Clare.

Nicole came up with the idea for the TY 100 Wheelchair Push – launched today at Shannon Airport, the event sponsor – as her key Transition Year project and it takes place on Saturday next just five months after the St. Flannan’s College student underwent severe and potentially life-threatening spinal surgery at Temple Street hospital.Nicole will forgo her specially designed motorised chair for a push-wheelchair and sit in it for up to ten hours as she is pushed along the picturesque West Clare countryside.She will be pushed in relay groups comprising teachers and fellow Transition Year students from her own school, St. Flannan’s College; Rice College, Ennis; Colaiste Mhuire, Ennis; Colaiste Mhuire, Ennistymon; Kilmihill Community College and Spanish Point Secondary School.

The looped journey will start at Lahinch before moving on to Ennistymon, Kilshanny, Lisdoonvarna, Doolin, down by the Cliffs of Moher, Liscannor and back to Lahinch.Fund raising for the walk began in New York and the TY 100 flag was flown into Shannon this morning for the launch, courtesy of Aer Lingus.

Nicole said, “I wanted to do something special in Transition Year to raise awareness and funds for Clare Crusaders, which does incredible work for young people like me. “I had my operation last November and wanted to use the wheelchair push as part motivation for my recovery. I set myself a target of being as well as possible for this and I am so excited now that it is upon us.“I will be spending a lot of time in a chair I’m not accustomed to but I will have great company. I’m really blown away by the number of people who have volunteered for this.”

So positive has the response been for Nicole’s initiative that a week out from the event she has already exceeded the €2,000 she was hoping to raise for Clare Crusaders from the walk. The proceeds will go towards the €250,000 it takes annually to run, and employ eight therapists at, the Clare Crusaders centre in Ennis.

Launching the walk, Shannon Airport Chairman Rose Hynes congratulated Nicole on her inspiring idea. “Nicole is a true role model, she is inspirational. She has overcome many challenges in her life including serious surgery recently. I admire her determination and fighting spirit which is an example to us all. We are delighted to support this great cause.”

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