Ronnie walks socks off to raise funds for illness
AFTER walking four marathons in five days, suffering from lost toenails and sunburn, former footballer Ronnie Whelan arrived in Galway yesterday at the end of another 107-mile trek.
The former Irish international was on his annual Ragdoll Walk, raising funds for myasthenia gravis, an illness which affects his daughter Elizabeth. The rare auto-immune disease, which affects around one in 10,000 people, has no known cure.
"People have been great, beeping the horn and stopping to give us a few quid as well," the Liverpool legend said.
He said the walk was all about raising awareness of the illness. "Elizabeth was falling down flights of stairs and didn't know why. It was because of the weakness in the muscles. We were getting told she had yuppie flu or just a teenager. There's still probably people out there getting told that," he said.
Ronnie had great praise for his fellow walkers, but particularly for Edel Buckley (27), who was diagnosed with the condition four years ago, even though she started to feel unwell from the age of 16.
"We just didn't know what it was. I learned to live with my limitations but then it got worse, to the point where I couldn't lift my head up in bed. I had to be carried upstairs," Edel explained.
Two years after her diagnosis, Edel finally began to feel the benefit of the steroid treatment.
"I don't complain about anything now because if I can do it, I will. For years I could do nothing."