Today is International Ataxia Awareness day.
To mark the occasion, a charity cycle established to raise funds for Friedreich's Ataxia research, has awarded adaptive cycling equipment to sufferers of the neuromuscular disease.
Earlier this month, Cycle Ataxia gifted a hand-bike to Carlow teenager, Oisín Pollard.
"It's given him a new lease of life," said Oisin's mum Elaine.
"He can go out on his own merit now, he has his independence."
Speaking to Independent.ie Elaine said the hand-bike has allowed 15-year-old Oisin to meet new friends and boosted him with a "real burst of energy."
"He goes out about three times a week and the whole family get out together at the weekend with the bikes, even his little sister comes along. He really loves it."
On September 22, Cycle Ataxia founder, Barry Rice met with Ataxia sufferers Fergal Lynch and Paralympian, Helen Kearney to award them both with recumbent tricycles.
Fergal Lynch, who has been wheelchair reliant for 14 years, thought he'd never cycle again after being diagnosed with the disease.
"It was great to see Fergal with the bike, he took to it straight away," said Barry.
"The two of them were delighted, so grateful. Helen will share her bike with her sister, Brona, who also has FA," he added.
Friedreich's Ataxia is a progressive neuromuscular disorder that affects muscle control and coordination. It results in the loss of ability to run, walk or move around, leading to full-time use of a wheelchair for many sufferers.
It can also cause a variety of other symptoms such as blindness, deafness, diabetes and life-threatening heart disorders.
Most young people diagnosed with FA require mobility aids such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair by their twenties.
Currently there is no cure or treatment for the disease but charities such as Cycle Ataxia work to raise funds for awareness and much-needed research.
In June of this year, over 500 cyclists took part in the Cycle Ataxia charity race across Ireland. It raised in excess of €15k with a portion of the funds going toward the adaptive cycling equipment.
Adaptive cycling is one of the most accessible forms of exercise for suffers of the disease because anyone can do it as long as they have the right equipment.
It allows those with FA to keep active and to maintain and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
The recipients, Fergal Lynch and Helen Kearney travelled to DHL’s Dublin HUB to meet and thank the team there who contributed to the cause by importing the trikes.
DHL also provided support vehicles and drivers at the cycle in Ashbourne, Co Meath last June.
Cycle Ataxia 2016 has recently been confirmed and a date for the event will soon be announced through the Cycle Ataxia Facebook page.
I'm delighted to unveil the Video for Cycle Ataxia 2015. Will you spot yourself? Please don't be afraid to share.Huge thanks to www.AnthonyDownesFilms.com for directing, and thanks also to Royseven for the soundtrack.Enjoy!Posted by Cycle Ataxia on Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Teenager Danny Millar never has to pick his dirty clothes off the bedroom floor and bring them to the washing machine - his dog, Fergus does it for him. Fergus can not only open and close doors and find the 15-year-old's phone on request - he even helps Danny undress.
Health & Wellbeing
THE words 'lucky' and 'progressive neuromuscular disease' aren't usually synonymous but, all things considered, I do consider myself lucky. Although I use a wheelchair, must concentrate to speak coherently, and have difficulty with basic tasks such as tying my laces or typing this article, I also have many things to be thankful for.