April is Parkinson's Awareness month and in support of the cause, local woman Adell Dunleavy is spearheading a novel initiative to raise funds for Young Parkinson’s Ireland.
The organisation supports people under the age of 55 who have been diagnosed with the illness, as well as their family and friends.
Adell was just 45-years-old when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago and since then she has embarked on a campaign to create more awareness about the illness and raise some much needed funds for research and the provision of services.
The latest fundraising initiative will see the Killoe woman abseil with numerous others at the Dalkey Adventure Centre on Saturday, September 1, 2018.
But the main focus now will be on raising those all important funds.
Just last week, Adell - who is big into fitness - injured her Achilles Tendon while working out in the gym, and underwent subsequent surgery.
It will take eight weeks recuperation for the injury to heal, so in the meantime she is putting all her energies into the fundraising initiative.
Adell is also adamant, despite this latest setback, that her fitness levels have contributed to a positive result after undergoing specialised tests at a Parkinson’s Disease Clinic in Italy recently.
“Myself and a guy called Peter Malone set up Young Parkinson’s Ireland in 2017 and we decided to do something to create awareness around the group,” she told the Leader.
“So, we are going to abseil in Dalkey next September; we are hoping to round up lots of troops to partake in the effort and hopefully raise lots of money while we are at it.
“We have sponsorship cards now as well and will be encouraging everyone we know to donate a few bob to this very worthy cause.”
Meanwhile, Young Parkinson’s Ireland has its own Facebook page and can also be accessed through the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland website.
“When we put the information out on Facebook about doing the fundraiser we got a huge response and have been very encouraged by that,” a delighted Adell continued, before pointing out that the event will also provide an opportunity to nationally promote the recently formed organisation.
And, indeed, the Longford woman is no stranger to stepping outside of her comfort zone and rising to the challenge; she has already completed two mini marathons and a Tandem Skydive!
In the past, Adell has also spoken to the Leader about the difficulties facing Parkinson’s sufferers in this country.
Services are poor, she says and with specialised treatment now available in the UK, many Irish people are forced to travel in order to access the services they need.
Latest statistics show there are 800,000 neurological disorders in Ireland, yet there are just 32 neurologists practising here.
“This is absolutely unacceptable,” added Adell who went to Italy recently to undergo specialised tests herself.
“In Ireland the services are just not there for people with Parkinson’s; imagine people are on a waiting list for two years before they can have neurological assessments.
“This is outrageous.”
For many it’s a struggle, but for Adell the last 12 months have seen an improvement in her condition.
She says it’s down to medication, exercise and fitness, and a healthy lifestyle.
“When I went to Italy they discovered there is nothing wrong with my walking and that is something else three years into diagnosis,” she smiled.
“I was also told that I was physically very fit and that was a contributory factor to how well my walking is.
“I was delighted with the results, and I am aware that I do push myself hard when it comes to fitness, but when I consider where I am now compared with 12 months ago, my efforts have been worth it.”
Adell was also taking medication on a trial and error basis, and in recent times she alongside her medical team discovered what worked for her.
This too has changed her life.
“It has been a journey, that is for sure,” she said.
“But my motto is to do what I can, when I can and for as long as I can and I can honestly say that I have been lucky so far.”