Former RTÉ broadcaster Charlie Bird said “each of us knows the journey the other person is on” as he paid tribute to a Dublin woman suffering from motor neuron disease who raised €20,000 for research.
r Bird, his wife Claire and their dog Tiger joined the family and friends of Valerie O’Carroll, 60, today at the Ballymun Child & Family Resource Center where the donation check for the Research Motor Neurone (RMN) charity was presented.
“I enjoyed every minute of it, although we laughed with pain and cried with laughter,” Ms O’Carroll, 60, commented on the journey as she walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain along with 14 of her friends and family this May year.
Planning for the trip originally began in 2020, and an iDonate page was set up to facilitate fundraising.
Ms O’Carroll received a warm tribute at today’s event after her efforts to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for the disease. Mr Bird also climbed Croagh Patrick with supporters in April this year to raise funds for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta.
Mr Bird said: “I know you and I have two different forms of MND, but each of us knows the journey the other person is on. Every year, well over 400 people are diagnosed with various forms of MND in this country, and there is still no cure for it. But it’s vital that research continues to find a cure for this terrible disease.
“Thank you for extending the hand of friendship,” Mr. Bird said using voice technology.
His wife Claire also paid tribute to Ms O’Carroll, adding that “You’re both very alike, you’re the female version of Charlie.”
The Ballymun Center where the event took place was founded by Mrs O’Carroll who also selected the staff and transformed it into the current community center and contact center for Ukrainian refugees.
At the event, Ms O’Carroll also spoke through the voice of her daughter, Orla Duffy, who read her mother’s words and paused as her voice broke.
“To each and every one of you who have spent a huge amount of your own money to support me on my journey to Santiago. A big thank you. It was a week we will never forget. I enjoyed every minute of it, although we laughed with pain and cried with laughter,” said Ms. O’Carroll.
Her daughter, Ms Duffy, later told Independent.ie that her mother “has been talking about doing it again next year. I know there’s a part in Portugal too, that’s along the coast, which supposedly would be nice.”
Stephen O’Carroll, Ms O’Carroll’s son, joked: “I wasn’t there last time, it was all women. Maybe next time they’ll let me in.”
Also present were Dr. Robert McFarlane of the Research Motor Neurone charity and Dublin’s Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy, who is a close friend of Ms O’Carroll.
“I’ve known her for years as I’m from Ballymun myself. It’s a fantastic day to recognize the hard work that has been going on for a number of years now,” said Ms Conroy.
Each case of MND is different, with life expectancy varying depending on the diagnosis.
In general, the disease affects how people walk, talk, eat, and breathe. Charlie Bird’s MND differs from Mrs. O’Carroll, Mr. Bird has ALS while Mrs. O’Carroll was diagnosed with PLS.
“I don’t know my future. I am in a different stage of the disease, I have what is called 1000 day ALS. But while I’m here, I’ll be working hard to raise awareness,” Mr Bird said.
Meanwhile, Mr Bird next week will hand over the money raised during the Climb with Charlie project, a day that many told him “was a piece of history that will forever be remembered as amazing.”
“As long as I live, I want to reach out the hand of friendship to people in dark places.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/it-is-vitally-important-that-the-research-continues-to-find-a-cure-for-this-dreadful-disease-says-charlie-bird-41855966.html “It is vitally important that research continues to find a cure for this terrible disease,” says Charlie Bird