A group of cyclists recently travelled from Malin Head in Donegal to Waterford and raised thousands of euro for the Waterford and South Kilkenny branch of MS Ireland.
A GROUP of intrepid cyclists embarked on a mammoth cycle from Donegal to Waterford during the June Bank Holiday Weekend.
In doing so, they raised almost €15,000 for the Waterford and South Kilkenny branch of MS Ireland.Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.Although the condition is known to many, the realities of living with MS are very often misunderstood.
When it comes to fundraising, MS Ireland is often competing with better known charities which are fundraising for causes affecting significantly more people.
John Brennan, owner of the Uluru on the Dunmore Road in Waterford, was the instigator of the recent cycle.
He explained that the group decided to embark on the cycle as his friend John has MS as does Uluru staff member Lukasz.
John was aware that MS is often forced to take a back seat compared to other conditions and causes which receive much more coverage and which are the subject of more high profile fundraisers.
Aiming to raise as much money as possible, and to also heighten awareness of MS, the hardy group of cyclists departed from the Uluru on the Friday morning of the June Bank Holiday Weekend on board a mini bus bound for Malin Head, the most northerly point on the island of Ireland. That evening, the group started the first leg of their journey across the border and into Derry.
On Saturday they travelled from Derry to Clones in County Monaghan.Sunday saw them continue southwards from Clones to Tullamore in County Offaly, while on Monday they embarked on the final leg of their journey from Tullamore back to the Uluru in Waterford.
Thankfully, the cyclists enjoyed fantastic weather throughout the weekend which made their gruelling journey more bearable.
Their supporters, including members of the local MS branch, greeted the cyclists on their arrival back to the Uluru on Monday evening where a well-earned barbeque was enjoyed.
An impressive sum of almost €15,000 was raised and was recently presented to members of the Waterford and South Kilkenny branch of MS Ireland at the Uluru.
Chairperson of the branch is Michael Brennan who has lived with MS for nearly 20 years. He initially came to a branch meeting in order to seek more information but ended up assuming the position of Chairperson shortly afterwards. Currently, there are around 35 members involved with the branch.A core group of about ten regularly attend meetings which are held once a month at The Woodlands Hotel.
The branch regularly links in with MS Ireland in order to keep up to date with developments.The meetings are an important opportunity for members to access information.
News on new medications can be discussed as can opportunities to avail of different assistances. If appropriate for them, members are encouraged to engage in physiotherapy, yoga etc. and anything else which may be of assistance in dealing with their condition. Two of the branch’s main annual events are their summer lunch and Christmas dinner.
Members are mainly in their forties and fifties but there are also some younger and older members.
“A lot of people have MS and don’t want to admit or accept it,” said Michael Brennan. “You have it so you may as well live openly instead of being secluded.”
Unfortunately, young people with MS are not as inclined to get involved with the branch – but members say this is understandable.“They’re busy working or they may have children. Their lives are very normal as they’re able to carry on,” said Eileen Nolan. “But young people are still being diagnosed with MS. It’s not known why, it’s not known how. MS is not going away but people are being diagnosed earlier and are being given drugs which are enabling them to lead a normal life.”
Eileen says there are many reasons why some people do not want to join an MS branch. “If you’re working and have kept well, some people don’t want to know about it,” she said.
“With many cases of MS, nothing is visible in the early stages. You can carry on leading a normal life and probably don’t want to join a group if you see people who use wheelchairs and scooters.”
Catherine Quinlan has had MS for 23 years but is in long term remission. She decided to join the local branch to find out what is being done in the local area for people with MS.
She says joining the branch has definitely made a difference. “People don’t really understand the symptoms and what it’s like for a person with MS,” she said.
“They look at you and think you’re very well but nobody knows what’s really going on.”
Catherine says the branch provides an important outlet in which to talk to people who understand each other and are “on the same page”.
For full text of this story see this week’s print edition of The Munster Express newspaper