DEIRDRE Horan wakes up every day and thanks God for her daughter Rachel.
Rachel (15) has Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes physical and intellectual disability and requires full-time care.
Her mother (49) is her constant carer and has just won the Munster Carer of the Year Award from the Carers' Association.
The young girl was born healthy but when she was around 13 months, her parents noticed that she kept dropping things. They had to wait an agonising eight years until she was finally diagnosed with the disorder at the age of nine.
Deirdre's world was thrown into turmoil last October when her husband David died suddenly. Still, she carries on looking after their daughter with a smile on her face and also helps her family care for her elderly father, Ned Sheehy.
The mother of four from Ballyard, Tralee, Co Kerry, will now go on to the national finals in Dublin on Wednesday.
"We have always looked after Rachel and it has never been a burden. It was just part of our lives," Deirdre told the Irish Independent.
Rett Syndrome sufferers are known as 'silent angels' and the condition only affects girls.
Deirdre has no idea who nominated her but she doesn't suspect it was any of her sons, Christopher (23), Philip (21) or 17-year-old Luke, whom she says are still confused over what she did to win.
She said both she and Rachel are looking forward to attending the national awards ceremony in the Westbury Hotel, Dublin, presented by patrons of the association, Mary Kennedy and Marty Whelan.