Little Mark Dolan and his Wish To Walk campaign received a huge boost this weekend when All Ireland finalists Padraic and Cathal Mannion from the local Ahascragh club dropped into to see Mark and pledge their support to his cause. The two brothers, who have celebrity status in these parts as hurling fever grabs the County, took Mark to the local GAA pitch and posed for photos. They also signed a hurley to be used at an auction in the village to help raise funds for Mark's life-changing surgery.
In just two weeks time Mark, along with his parents Fidelma and Kevin Dolan, will board a plane to St Loius, Missouri in the USA where they will attend a clinic ran by DR TS Park, a neurosurgeon, who specialises in Mark's condition and has performed numerous SDR surgeries on Irish children over the years. The family will have to stay in St Louis for up to five weeks whilst Mark undergoes surgery. The first surgery will take place just three days after their arrival and will last for six hours which will be distressing for the little three year old boy and parents alike.
Having got through the surgery the next 72 hours for Mark is critical in order for the surgery to be successful. During this period his parents, working in shifts, will have to keep Mark lying still on his back with total restriction of movement which will be severe on all parties. Having got over this critical period brave Mark will more than likely proceed to a second surgery to have the muscles in his legs loosened again. Following on from this the family will spend four further weeks in intensive physio programmes to prepare Mark for the long journey home.
Meanwhile back home Marks Wish to Walk campaign and its hard-working committee are still busy raising funds to cover the enormous costs of Mark's Journey.
Campaign chairman Seamus Concannon explained to the Irish Independent that the campaign and the good will of the local people were determined to fund as much of the enormous costs of Mark's journey which in all will total close to €120,000. He pointed out that Mark's journey was a long one which started just under a year ago with the three times weekly visit to the clinic in Limerick which has so far cost the family €15,000. He also explained that when Mark steps off the plane from Missouri he faces a further two years care in the clinic in Limerick which is vital to his recovery and this will cost a further €30,000. €65,000 approx will go towards the surgery and flights,and accommodation and extras make up the balance.
The chairman added that the campaign to date had exceeded all expectations and that after five weeks that just under €80,000 had been raised. This as been achieved by a small but vibrant community coming together as one and reaching out to its friends and colleagues further afield. Donations have been received from as little as two euro from the Facebook Challenge to up to €10,000 for a fundraiser by a family cousin Mary Anderson Gorman who shaved her long golden hair in a pub in her native Ferbane.
All sort of events have been held locally, such as waxathons, Church gate collections, bog walks, quiz nights, raffles, auctions, tea parties, car washes, dances, pony races and the lists goes as as the general public go all out to fulfil Mark's dream. The generosity and sacrifices people have made have overwhelmed his parents, and this campaign only highlights what a wonderful Nation we are when it comes to a worthy cause. His parents and committee along with local parish priest Fr Kevin Reynolds are holding a special Mass of GRATITUDE AND HOPE on Tuesday 15th September at 8pm in St Cuan’s Church Ahascragh just before the family leave for the USA to pray for little Marks safe journey and for the family to show Gratitude to the hundreds and indeed thousands of people who have joined in this campaign.
Who knows, next Monday 7th the Mannion brothers, accompanied by a certain Mr Liam McCarthy, may call in to Ahascragh once again and join in on MARK'S WISH TO WALK!
Mark's journey has been a long one - to read more about it you can download his story so far here
And for further updates or to see how you can help please like and visit Mark's Wish to Walk Facebook Page
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