Wheel­chair joy for John

BIG-HEARTED LO­CAL HERO NATALIE KELLY HELPS RAISE €7,000 FOR DROGHEDA BOY

Drogheda Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By HU­BERT MUR­PHY

A TRUE lo­cal hero has taken the story of a nine-yearold wheel­chair bound boy to her heart - and raised €7,000 to help give him a bet­ter life.

Coura­geous Natalie Kelly (pic­tured) from Monaster­boice, who her­self has bat­tled back from child­hood ill­ness, even ran a marathon to help fund a new wheel­chair for Drogheda boy John Dunne.

And last week, the new state-of the-art chair ar­rived - much to the de­light of John.

‘I was just taken by John’s story af­ter I heard it and wanted to do some­thing for him,’ a de­lighted Natalie told the Drogheda In­de­pen­dent.

She said she could iden­tify with John’s story as she lives in pain each day with two steel rods and rib and hip bone in her spine, a re­sult of med­i­cal pro­ce­dures that al­lowed her to walk.

The 5’ 2’’ su­per­woman and mum of two, ran last year’s Dublin City marathon with Team Car­rie in agony - but said she had to com­plete it. Natalie’s dream would be a pur­pose built home for John and the chance for him to re­turn to school af­ter two years.

THE gen­eros­ity of a com­mu­nity has helped trans­form the life of a wheel­chair-bound Drogheda boy.

John Dunne con­tracted menin­gi­tis as a young baby which left him with se­vere med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions. Now nine, he lives in a two bed­roomed house with his mum and grand­mother. Be­cause of his con­di­tion, he has been un­able to at­tend school for the past two years.

Even get­ting out of his home was prov­ing a hard­ship as he just had an or­di­nary wheel­chair.

But last May, a big hearted an­gel called Natalie Kelly from Monaster­boice learned about John’s case and the rest was his­tory.

Af­ter a chance meet­ing with John’s granny and a heart­felt chat, Natalie de­cided on a mis­sion - raise about €2,500 and buy John a proper wheel­chair to al­low him to get out and about and sam­ple life again.

She could read­ily iden­tify with John as she was a mir­a­cle baby her­self in many ways.

‘As a young baby I too had a bac­te­ria in­fec­tion ex­cept mine was called spinal disci­tis,’ she stated.

At three months old she had ribs re­moved and placed in her spine to keep it sta­ble. Her par­ents were told she may never walk, but did, af­ter 11 months. In her teens, she had a bone re­moved from her hip to fur­ther aid her spine.

She still lives in pain, but when she heard John’s story, some­thing clicked.

‘I rang John’s granny and asked could I help out in some way and af­ter I checked it out, I knew I needed to raise about €2,500 for a new wheel­chair for John,’ she stated.

She got to €2,000 af­ter a lot of help from fam­ily and friends, thanks to join­ing Team Car­rie and run­ning in the Dublin marathon (she fin­ished in four hours, 28 min­utes). ‘I had to use a walk­ing stick for a week or two af­ter it, but I man­aged it,’ Natalie re­marked.

She then went on Gerry Kelly’s ra­dio show - leav­ing the host in tears! - and the money be­gan to mount, some do­na­tions of €500 from well wish­ers, cake sales and even a Wal­shestown FC char­ity game.

Al­most €7,000 has been brought in so far and last week, the first of that was paid out - with the ar­rival of John’s new wheel­chair.

It has a power pack and will help make life a lit­tle eas­ier for his fam­ily.

‘Giv­ing some­thing to some­one else is very re­ward­ing and I will for­ever be changed ( in a good way ) from this ex­pe­ri­ence. John was re­cently with a pri­vate spe­cial­ist that he has been wait­ing to see for two years through the HSE but this was now made pos­si­ble from the money raised,’ she stated. ‘He is on new med­i­ca­tion which will hope­fully al­low him in time to re­turn to school.’ Af­ter the cost of the wheel­chair, funds will now be spent on spe­cial­ist ses­sions and sen­sory toys.

Natalie would love to see John, who is also non ver­bal, in a new, pur­pose built house to meet his needs.

‘I am keep­ing the Go Fund Me page (www.gofundme. com/wheels-for-john-2w3qvp8m) open to fur­ther help John as he gets older and all sup­port would be ap­pre­ci­ated,’ Natalie stated. ‘ To those that have sup­ported the fund, many thanks.’

John Dunne and his granny and the new chair.

John Dunne and on the right, Natalie Kelly who fundraised to get him a wheel­chair.

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