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Date finally given for Ronan’s long awaited operation

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SUCCESS: After waiting for over two years for an operation to fix a 90 degree curvature of the spine, Ronan Foley, pictured here outside St Oliver's NS with his dad Tony, mom Caroline and brother Gavin, has been given a date for surgery next week. Photo: Michelle Crean

By Michelle Crean

After waiting in severe pain for over two and a half years for vital life-changing surgery Ronan Foley - whose family campaigned vigorously - has been given a date for next week.

The surgery - which was cancelled a number of times before - can't come soon enough according to his family who have seen a rapid deterioration of Ronan's spine - which is now at a curvature of over 90 degrees causing chronic pain all day everyday.

His family, alongside staff at St Oliver's NS, TDs, politicians and locals, took part in a media campaign which was featured in the Killarney Advertiser and online to get an urgent date to help give him back a pain free life.

This week his father Tony said that they are delighted to have finally secured a date for next Thursday - but are cautious in case it is cancelled again.

"We have a provisional date, but the nearer we get to it the more nervous we are," Tony told the Killarney Advertiser this week.

"We are delighted but cautious with it. We got the call two weeks ago but kept it to ourselves just in case. We only told family and friends at the weekend in case it got cancelled again."

Ronan (14), who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, is waiting for his operation since March 2018 when he had a 42 degree curve in his spine. By October, this deteriorated to 79 degrees. The operation waiting time should only be three to four months, according to Tony.

"It was decided then that he was priority for surgery and that he'd have it in three to four months. We're two years down the road now and the curvature is over 90 degrees. He's in pain daily. He's either in the bed or lying on the floor on a duvet and it's impacting his organs. He is in a sitting position for a half hour or tops three quarters of an hour each day to eat and we're always asking him if he's comfortable."

The operation for Ronan, who started in St Francis Special School just two weeks ago, will dramatically change his life.

He is a very social child and has a fantastic personality. He loves it there and and it has really picked up his form. He has a fantastic life to get back to," Tony added.

"We're hopefully at a conclusion now, but we're not over the line yet."

Tony, from Killorglin, added that he and his family are so grateful to everyone who helped their campaign from staff at St Oliver's, the locals, TDs Michael Healy-Rae, Pa Daly, Norma Foley, Cllrs Mikey Sheey and Michael Cahill, and local company The Brand Geeks.

"Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has also been very good to us, very approachable and supportive. We can't thank everyone enough."

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Better late than never Christmas present for St Francis Special School

By Sean Moriarty St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use. Husband and wife team Ciaran […]

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By Sean Moriarty

St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use.

Husband and wife team Ciaran and Karen Dwyer, directors of Guerin Engineering and Pumps Ltd in Kilcummin, presented the special adapted bicycle to the staff and pupils at the Beaufort school on Tuesday.

After seeing an online request last December that the school needed the bike, they decided to gift one.

They contacted Glencar Medical, a Dublin-based firm that specialises in the supply of equipment to schools like St Francis, and ordered the bicycle.

However, nothing is straightforward in the current climate, Brexit, COVID and war all contributed to a delay in getting the bike to Ireland. Once it was in Dublin there were further delays in sourcing the special straps that St Francis’ children need to ride the bike safely.

It all came to a happy ending this week when the Dwyers were finally able to present their Christmas present to the school.

“We saw this request and we contacted the school and said we wanted to buy one, they told us where to get one, and we ordered it,” Karen told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We had it paid for by the end of the year but then it took three months to get it into the country. It took more time to import the specialist parts. The costs were increasing but we did not mind at all.”

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Jordan Lee to tell his story to the county’s schools

Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry. The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series […]

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Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry.

The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series of informal talks on his achievements and how he overcame his disability to reach the top of his chosen sport.

The 21-year-old was born with a foreshortened left arm known as amniotic band syndrome but has enjoyed a successful sports career which included representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Now he wants to share his story and inspire other students to follow their dreams.

His tour started last week at Colaiste na Sceilge in Cahersiveen and over the next few weeks, depending on his training schedule, will visit schools in Firies, Milltown, and Killarney.

“Don’t be afraid of people with disabilities or different backgrounds,” he said. “A few years ago there was only typical people in classrooms – you never came across people with disabilities or from various different countries. It is a lot more mixed now. I want to inspire people to treat everyone on the same level.”

‘Jordan’s Drive’ is made possible thanks to his role as a brand ambassador for Kelliher’s Garage, dealer principal, Tim Kelliher explained to the Killarney Advertiser.

“Having got to know Jordan so well over the last couple of years we have come to realise how much of an inspiration he is so we decided to ask him to hop into his Toyota CHR Hybrid and bring his story out into the highways and byways of the Kingdom,” he said.

“Headlined ‘Jordans Drive’ and organised by my marketing team headed by Yvonne McMahon they have travelled to many of the schools around Kerry from Cahersiveen to Beaufort, Killorglin and with other dates planned for Firies and Milltown to name but a few. He has spoken his many words of wisdom to the children who have been in awe of the journey and his achievements, and we at Kelliher’s Garage are delighted and proud to have him as our brand ambassador.”

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