HUGE crowds at a 5k walk showed Cllr Mary Harty she has the community’s support for every step of her battle with motor neurone disease.
Inspired by Cllr Harty, Pallasgreen/Templebraden Development Association organised the walk for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) in less than a month.
Over 1,000 took part in the event started by Cllr Harty outside Pallasgreen Community Centre on Saturday.
People queued to meet and talk to the former cathaoirleach, who is one of only 200 to 250 in Ireland with the incurable disease.
A total of €18,000 was raised on the day alone for IMNDA with more to come.
“I’m delighted, and I’m delighted for the association. They have been a fantastic support,” said Cllr Harty, who spoke to the Leader about her illness three weeks ago to raise awareness of the IMNDA’s work.
Cathaoirleach Jerome Scanlan said the turn-out spoke volumes about how highly Cllr Harty is held within her community.
“It is evidence, if evidence was needed, how popular Mary is,” said Cllr Scanlan.
In a moving speech, Noel Noonan, of Fort Mary Park in Limerick city, represented the IMNDA.
Mr Noonan’s wife, Denise, passed away in 2011 from motor neurone disease.
“I don’t know Mary personally but I read her story in the Limerick Leader two weeks ago. It is a very recognisable story for me. Mary obviously is a very brave person with a very positive attitude.
“These are essential traits to have with this illness. Motor neurone disease is the toughest of the tough but it can be outdone,” said Mr Noonan.
Like the event on Saturday for Cllr Harty, a fundraiser was organised for the IMNDA by friends of Mrs Noonan, who was ill for four years.
“The fact that our local community got together and organised this meant that Denise got an unbelievable lift knowing that something really good was coming out of her situation.
“I know that Mary and her family will have that same feeling today, they will be very proud. With this illness every little positive is massive to the people directly involved,” said Mr Noonan. Micheal Ryan rounded off the day when he said Mary Harty managed to do something that no one else in the country has - unite all the politicians together. “There are TDS and councillors here from east and west Limerick, city and county,” he said.
To sustained and warm applause for Cllr Harty, Mr Ryan finished by saying, “we hope today will sustain you in the years ahead with your illness.”