Teresa Megehey, Katrina Lennon, Lorraine Cox, Jackie McNerney, Bernie Coghlan, Gráinne Harney and Aisling Dowdall at the Dromard GAA grounds for the Leg it for Lorraine walkathon
A courageous mother of three has said she will be forever indebted to how a small, tight-knit community in north Longford she left almost two decades ago came together last weekend in support of her ongoing fight against the onset of motor neurone disease.
Inspirational Derrylin woman Lorraine Cox was back in her former stomping ground of Dromard to bear witness to a 24 hour walkathon which had been spearheaded by many of her former neighbours, friends and Moyne Community School classmates.
It’s aim was as uplifting as it was symbolic-to ensure Lorraine’s time with her beloved three children were made as memorable as possible.
By the time the curtain came down on affairs at Pairc na nGael followed by a memorable night of comedy at The Breffni Arms Hotel on Saturday night, the occasion had left many, including that of its main beneficiary lost for words. “It’s been absolutely amazing from start to finish,” she said.
“From 5pm yesterday (Friday) when we arrived, the girls had the places set up and ready with the balloons out and everything.
“It was just surreal and it’s been like that every hour. The support, not just from Dromard and Legga, but from all communities, has been amazing.
“There have been people from Granard, Ballinamuck, Drumlish, it’s been savage and then obviously the Derrylin crew coming down as well who can’t actually believe what has been put on here for us.”
There were warm sentiments of appreciation too from organising committee members with one of its chief protagonists Bernie Coghlan confiding to being “blown away” by the success of it all.
“Taken aback doesn’t even come close,” she remarked.
“For Lorraine to come home after living away for the past 20 years and to see the level of support, love and respect there is for her out there is just overwhelming, it’s quite unbelievable actually.”
And while its too early to speculate as to the overall figure raised, an estimated 375 walkers laced their runners for the novel fundraiser while hundreds more have donated online raising hopes that the final tally could reach five figures.
Whatever the sum total may or may not be, it’s something Lorraine admitted will be “life changing” given the extraordinary decision by Northern Ireland health chiefs to deny her disability benefit because she doesn’t have a medical prognosis of six months or less to live.
It’s a plight which has forced Lorraine to rely on savings and the goodwill of her sister to get by.
Not that she’s prepared to let any of that or the illness which she knows will ultimately claim her life, consume her.
“Some days you could wake up and think ‘to hell with this what am I going to do’ and then with what has gone on over the weekend you realise all the people that are behind you and are there supporting you,” she bravely put it.
“The disease is not going to control me, I will control it.
“I am not a down and out person and I am not a feel sorry for me person. I’m someone who gets up, gets dressed and gets out there.
“I am not that type of person and I never will be.”
Strong and resolute words they may be, they are ones which sum up just why the many natives of Dromard and its surrounding environs are proud to call this admirable and incredibly fearless woman one of their own.