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Rugby legend Johnny Sexton to support EB sufferer taking on 36km challenge

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Emma Fogarty with her assistant Georgina Herlihy taking part in Emma’s 36 Challenge – a 36km assisted walk for Debra Ireland which will test her limits of endurance. To donate see justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-fogarty

Emma Fogarty with her assistant Georgina Herlihy taking part in Emma’s 36 Challenge – a 36km assisted walk for Debra Ireland which will test her limits of endurance. To donate see justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-fogarty

Emma Fogarty with her assistant Georgina Herlihy taking part in Emma’s 36 Challenge – a 36km assisted walk for Debra Ireland which will test her limits of endurance. To donate see justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-fogarty

Rugby legend Johnny Sexton has joined a host of celebrities in supporting a woman with a rare skin disease who is completing a 36km challenge.

Hollywood actor Colin Farrell has also shown his support for Emma Fogarty, from Abbeyleix, Co Laois, whowas born with EB (epidermolysis bullosa), also known as butterfly skin, which causes the skin layers and internal body linings to blister and wound at the slightest touch.

80pc of her body is covered in bandages and she is the oldest EB survivor in Ireland.

Ms Fogarty has been using a wheelchair since undergoing major surgery last year.

Her assistant Georgina Herlihy is going to push her on the 36km journey, which she has set herself the challenge of completing to raise funds for Debra Ireland, a charity that supports people with EB.

Originally setting the target at €3,600, it was raised by Ray D'Arcy to €36,00 and Emma has raised over €52,000, and she is now aiming to bring to total to €72,000.

Sexton told Ray D’Arcy on his RTE Radio 1 show on Friday afternoon that he was very conscious of the pain Emma Fogarty’s assisted walk challenge would inflict on her in her efforts to raise funds for Debra Ireland.

“I said to her ‘would you not just let me and Colin Farrell and Ray D’Arcy do the 36kms, or even do them on a bike?’ but she was adamant that she wanted to do it,” Johnny told the radio presenter.

“I know people might listen to this and think 36 km is not a lot, but with this disease, Emma is hurting every time she hits a bump on the road, not to mention the pain of just getting into the wheelchair with all the bandage changes and hours of preparation," he said.

“She is going to raise some great funds for a fantastic charity and the money is being put to great use, and ultimately that is what it is all about."

He recalled meeting Emma for the first time when he was at the beginning of his career.

“When I first met Emma I was just starting out on my rugby career, so I did not have any big profile to add to the charity.

“Then things started to grow and I just started to enjoy helping out and getting to know Emma.

“When you meet these people and you see the constant pain that they are in, it is something that you just want to help out with.

“Debra Ireland is the charity I work most closely with and I will try to do everything I can for them for as long as I am still a rugby player, and beyond hopefully.”

Debra Ireland provides patient support services and drives research into treatments and cures for those with the condition.

Speaking on the Ray D'Arcy show previously, Emma described the pain that she feels all the time to be "considerable".

“The pain I endure, all the time, whether I’m sitting in a chair or lying in bed, is considerable, and I am on a huge amount of medication,” she said.

“But I'm not going to let that beat me. My birthday is next Thursday June 25, and to mark it, I’m embarking on this challenge to prove a point.

“My test isn't the endurance test, it is to see if I can endure the ramps, the bumps, the potholes – even a pebble on the road."

To donate see justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-fogarty

Online Editors