Katie O'Halloran, a dynamic Irish lawyer, born without arms and with only one leg is on a quest to raise funds for Bebionic prosthetic arms so she can continue her amazing life journey.
The 23-year-old Galway lawyer was born with Femur Fibula Ulna Syndrome which left her without arms and with a short, deformed right leg. Her parents, Catherine and Tom, were told that their daughter would never walk and confronted by this apparently insurmountable situation, the family set forth on an epic life journey.
As a young child, Katie attended a special school in London which soon helped put her on the path to independence. As she grew, she began to manipulate and interact with objects using her right foot but was subsequently restricted from doing so by the prosthesis she was required to wear. Undeterred, Katie quickly adapted and switched to using her left foot! This gave hope to her parents, family and doctors. After the family returned to Galway, Katie attended the local primary and secondary school in Carna, Co. Galway, before finally taking on the challenge of attending university. Last fall, she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Law from the National University of Ireland, Galway and is currently interning at MacDermott & Allen law firm in Galway City.
Katie is now undertaking a new challenge and is hoping to obtain Bebionic prosthetic arms so she can have greater independence and freedom in her life. The Bebionic arms are unique as each finger has an individualised motor within it allowing separate movements of each finger. This is a huge advancement from the previous prosthetic arms which only had a pincher like movement between the thumb and index finger. Speaking with The Irish Emigrant, Katie remarked “These prosthetics will allow me to open doors, carry bags, give a person a hug and shake a person's hand.” Everyday tasks most of us take for granted.
Katie will have to learn how to use what are, in reality, complex and sophisticated machines as if they were a part of her body. Add to that the intensive physiotherapy required before and after to strengthen her muscles and the scale of the task before her becomes clear. First though, the young Galway woman has to face the financial challenge of raising the $400,000 necessary to cover the costs of the equipment and physiotherapy for this life-changing operation. However, there is strength in numbers and given the Katie's proven determination and resilience in her short life, the community of Carna soon rallied behind her to help the new lawyer obtain her new arms.
Fundraising began last summer in Carna, Co Galway and almost $300,000 has been raised to date. Speaking about the fundraising efforts of her neighbours and friends, O'Halloran said “I am truly grateful to everyone who helped and is helping with the fundraising events. No matter how small of a contribution is made I am still very grateful as people still thought of donating their time, money or both to my cause.”
One man who is going the extra mile for her cause is Michael Cloherty who is running 3 marathons in 3 weeks in 3 countries: the Connemara Marathon in Galway, the London City Marathon and the Boston City Marathon. Speaking with the Galway man on his triple marathon challenge, he said "I wanted to do something to raise the profile of the campaign and raise money for Katie. I seen that these 3 marathons were in a row and thought there's an idea." Michael began his training last September and commenting on this big undertaking "I hope to do be able to do them but to also to do them well." He undertook his first Marathon in Galway on Sunday, April 6. He is hoping that his endeavors will attract the support of the large Irish communities that exist in both London and Boston.
On Marathon Monday in Boston, there is one supporter who plans to greet Michael Cloherty as he crosses the finish line and that's Katie herself. Remarking on Michael’s marathon mission, she said “It is a huge undertaking for any person and for Michael to participate in order to raise funds for my cause is truly remarkable and unbelievable. I will be rooting for him at the end.”
Whilst in Boston, Katie will also be attending a local fundraiser which is taking place on her behalf at the IBEW Hall, Dorchester on April 19. This event will be the first time the Galway woman will finally get to meet members of the Boston community who have been organizing events, donating their time and efforts to her cause. O'Halloran is excited about the upcoming event commenting “I get to meet them face to face and thank them for their help and let them know in person what a difference these arms will make to my life.”
If you would like to donate to Katie's fund, please visit www.facebook/katieborntorun.