A LIMERICK student whose wheelchair was cruelly stolen from outside his home on Sunday night has returned to school at St Nessan’s after St Gabriel’s School in Dooradoyle stepped in with a replacement.
A number of people contacted the Limerick Leader with offers to loan or pay for a wheelchair for 16-year-old Thomondgate lad Shane Dundon having read that he was housebound after a gang of youths smashed up his means of getting around town.
Roger Beck, manager at the Parkway Shopping Centre, said Shane was free to use one of the complimentary wheelchairs his business makes available for disabled shoppers for as long as he needed.
Solicitor John Devane also pledged to make a financial contribution for a new wheelchair and there were at least two other offers to get Shane back on the move, one from a disabled woman in Southill.
Shane’s mother Teresa said the Dundons were grateful for all the generous offers.
St Gabriel’s had heard about last Sunday’s theft and arrived with wheelchair on Tuesday, meaning Shane - who has cerebral palsy - had his independence back and only missed two days of school.
The theft occurred while the family was watching the X-Factor at home on Sunday night.
When the Dundons discovered the theft at around 10pm, Shane’s older sister Nicole immediately got on Facebook to appeal for its return.
“She got a reply back straightaway that these lads had been seen outside Freda’s chip shop on the Kileely Road, stopping traffic with it. Apparently they thought it was very funny. They had plenty of time to give it back because they knew Shane was looking for it. But they chose to bust it up instead, I’m told because they wanted the wheels for a sulky whatever that is,” said Teresa.
She explained that Shane was an independent-minded teenager who liked to come and go as he pleased but had to leave his wheelchair outside the front door as there is no access ramp at their home in DeValera Park. He only brings the wheelchair in at night when it is time to lock up.
“What young fella of 16 should have to crawl in and out of his home on his hands and knees? We were promised by the council when we moved in three years ago that we would have wheelchair access. I told them I wasn’t going to move in until Shane could get in and they said not to worry that it would be sorted out in six months,” Teresa said.
She was only told this year to apply in writing for a grant but was informed in May that resources and the high number of applications didn’t allow for the works to be carried out this year.
Teresa said that on hearing the story, Deputy Willie O’Dea’s office had been on to her offering to plead Shane’s case at City Hall.
She was grateful for all the help and support the family has been getting on social media over the past few days.
The Dundons will soon take delivery of a custom-made wheelchair from the United States that will hopefully one day help the 16-year-old achieve his dream of representing Ireland at the Paralympics.
“You’d think that with all the attention the Paralympics and the Special Olympics have been getting that people would have a better idea about the issues of people with disabilities and what they can achieve. But I suppose some people just don’t have the cop-on,” said Teresa.
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