THe IRISH Wheelchair Association’s Angel fundraising campaign is a fitting title says one of its members.
Sixty-year-old Catherine O’Grady, from Mungret, said her life was transformed when she joined the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA).
“My life changed three years ago, it was like turning on a light,” said Mrs O’Grady.
She is one of 2,700 people with disabilities that benefit from IWA’s services in Limerick. These include assisted living service, resource and outreach centre, driving assessments and tuition, parking permits, respite breaks, supported housing and independent living units.
Due to the funding cutbacks affecting many organisations the IWA are increasingly dependent on fundraising to maintain their services.
Paralympic athlete, James McCarthy, launched the Angel campaign in Drombanna Day-Care Centre in advance of events and the sale of €2 Angel pins.
Bag packing will take place in supermarkets and a quiz in Bobby Byrne’s on Thursday, October at 9pm.
Mrs O’Grady lost her confidence when she was confined to a wheelchair.
“I was in a road traffic accident 41 years ago when I was 19. I walked for 27 years but with difficulty and then 14 ago years the power left my legs.
“It [being confined to a wheelchair] took my independence from me, all my confidence went - I became introverted,” said Mrs O’Grady, who is married to Henry and they have five sons and daughters - Paul, Bernadette, Robert, Sarah and Barry.
“The five all left home but they were back and forth and Henry was terrific. My family are very supportive but I was depending on them and that’s a horrible feeling. Everyone needs to be independent. Then somebody asked me why didn’t I join the IWA. A gentleman interviewed me and established that I needed the services they were offering,” said Mrs O’Grady.
And now the Mungret lady is back to her old self.
“I didn’t know anybody in a wheelchair before this. I felt all my confidence was taken from me and it‘s back now again. I am mixing with other like minded people,” explained Mrs O’Grady, who receives the services of a personal assistant to get her organised for the day and ready for the IWA bus.
Two days a week she goes to Drombanna Day-Care Centre and other days on excursions or shopping.
“Professionals teach us paper and bead crafting, painting, ceramics, photography and exercises. The exercises you can do in a wheelchair are amazing. The computer courses are taught through the VEC,” said Mrs O’Grady, who has completed FETAC level 1 and 2,
“I’ve been singing the praises of the IWA to so many people so I’m delighted to do it publicly. The carers and community employment supervisor, Marie Murphy, are amazing. They look after us so well,” she adds.
Currently the IWA rent premises in Drombanna, Newcastle West and off the Dock Road but this is all set to change in the New Year. They have secured a grant from the JP McManus Pro-Am of €400,000 to refurbish one of the units in Limerick Enterprise Development Park in Roxboro so all their services will be under one roof.
To learn more log on to www.iwa.ie