Wheelchair joy for John
BIG-HEARTED LOCAL HERO NATALIE KELLY HELPS RAISE €7,000 FOR DROGHEDA BOY
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.