Saturday 18 November 2017

'I did it for her': Cystic Fibrosis sufferer climbed Kilimanjaro for his late sister

17-year-old Cystic Fibrosis sufferer Shane Dunphy (centre) on the summit of Kilimanjaro with his best friends Neil Mockler and Jack Hennessy, who supported him all the way, raising money and awareness about CF and accompanying him on the climb
17-year-old Cystic Fibrosis sufferer Shane Dunphy (centre) on the summit of Kilimanjaro with his best friends Neil Mockler and Jack Hennessy, who supported him all the way, raising money and awareness about CF and accompanying him on the climb
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A Teenager who reached the summit of Kilimanjaro despite suffering from Cystic Fibrosis (CF) was inspired by his older sister who died from the disease.

Shane Dunphy (17) completed the feat in October, on his second attempt, and was honoured for his outstanding achievement by Kildare County Council.

Last year, Shane, from Rathangan, Co Kildare, had attempted Kilimanjaro but was forced to give up after reaching 4,000 metres of the 5,900m hike. When he returned home disappointed, it was his sister Sarah who encouraged him to have another go.

"Sarah encouraged me to go back. She just said, 'go and do it again'," said Shane, who also had the support of his best friends Jack Hennessy and Neil Mockler, who were with him every step of the way.

Sadly, Sarah died in March at the age of 23 from the same disease her brother has.

Read more: 'Our ultimate hope is that one day there will be a cure for Cystic Fibrosis'

Despite the devastating loss of his only sibling, Shane began training again with his friends under the supervision of Dr Padraig Sheeran of the Kilimanjaro Achievers.

In preparation, the trio trained at the gym, went for walks in the evening and climbed a different Irish mountain every month. They also raised money and awareness of CF.

Shane received his civic honour from Mayor of Kildare Fiona O'Loughlin and fellow Kildare man Ray D'Arcy, and was one of a number of people honoured by their county for their sporting achievements, along with Leinster and Ireland rugby star Jamie Heaslip.

Read more: 'I believe things can only get better for people with CF'

Watching in the audience were Shane's proud parents, Phil and John.

"We're all amazed by Shane," said his mum. "I don't know how he did it, especially when he only lost his sister nine months ago, but we're extremely proud of him and his achievement."

Family friend and adventurer Mike O'Shea, who led the expedition last year, said he was in awe of Shane.

Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary disease of the lungs and digestive system that affects around 1,200 people.

Read more: This treatment is not a cure for CF, but to see the real change in my own body is a miracle

Ireland has the highest incidence of the condition, with one in every 19 people thought to carry the CF gene.

Although Kilimanjaro will be tough to beat, Shane is focussing on his next challenge, his Leaving Cert at Ardscoil Rath Iomghain.

"That's my big focus," he said.

Herald

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