A woman with cerebral palsy is set to complete a 'virtual' marathon in order to raise much-needed funds for the treatment clinic that helped her with her condition growing up.
Nicole Norton (22), from Barefield, Co Clare, will undertake the 42km marathon in her wheelchair after the cancellation of the Dublin City Marathon - due to Covid-19 - has resulted in the loss of the Clare Crusaders Clinic's main annual fundraiser.
The volunteer counsellor, who is also visually impaired, and a small group of Crusader runners will complete the 'virtual' Dublin City Marathon on roads and tracks around Ennis, Co Clare, over a number of days at the end of the month.
The marathon group plan to cross the finish line at the Clare Crusaders Clinic, accompanied by some of the children receiving therapies at the clinic.
For Nicole, the marathon is a way of "giving back" for all the help she has got throughout the years..
"For me, it is a way of giving back for what I got when I was a young one," she said.
"I am doing this to raise funds and hopefully, it will bring money in. I'm doing it for the kids."
Nicole, who currently has a dislocated shoulder, says people think she has "ten heads" for going through with a marathon.
"When I go training, if I go over a bump, my shoulder pops out but I just keep going and get through the pain," she said.
"When I meet people there and tell them I am doing the marathon, they look at me as if I have ten heads.
"I live for the clinic and that is why I want to do something to make sure that the clinic stays open."
The clinic has been shut down temporarily due to Covid-19 and is planning to bring in its first group of children next week.
Her mother Ann, who helped set up the clinic in 2007, said that the training has given Nicole "a great focus".
"Nicole is out everyday training at the track at Lees Road no matter what the weather," she said.
"Nicole is in constant pain, there is never a day she isn't in pain. She is on morphine now, every day four times a day, and that is just so that she can function. It is not something we would have liked but we don't have a choice."
One of the runners aiming to complete the virtual marathon, Pat Bogue, said that what helps motivate him to do it is "to honour the children and families who benefit from the clinic and keep the marathon tradition going for the future".
To sponsor Nicole's marathon, visit give.everydayhero.com/ie/clare-crusaders-virtual-marathon-challenge.