The Boston Irish have done Katie O’Halloran proud and raised over $180,000 towards her campaign to purchase bionic arms.
Backed by Mayor Marty Walsh, the Irish American community in Boston have taken Katie’s 'Born to Run' campaign to their hearts.
The 22-year-old law graduate from Connemara is now almost two thirds of the way towards her target of $400,000 to purchase prosthetic arms.
Katie was born with Femur-Fibula-Ulna Syndrome, leaving her without arms and with a short, deformed right leg.
She has told how she wants to expand her independence with the help of Bebionic prosthetic arms and has been astounded by the public reaction to her campaign’s fund-raising efforts, both at home and in America.
Katie met with Mayor Walsh on the eve of the Boston Marathon when many runners raised sponsorship funds in her honor.
She was also the beneficiary of a major fund-raising night in Dorchester which took the total funds raised over the $180,000 mark.
Her campaign team posted on Facebook: “Thanks to everyone for your generosity and supported with our great fundraiser last night. Katie and her family are overwhelmed by the support they have received since they arrived in Boston.”
With family roots in Connemara, Mayor Walsh was delighted to support the recent benefit night in Freeport Hall, Dorchester, just around the corner from where he grew up.
Mayor Walsh told the Irish Examiner: “The Irish community always supports their own and my uncle, Peter, has been very involved in the community and they asked me to get involved and help out a little bit.
“I’m here to support Katie in all the efforts that are being done. This is very big and this is very big to Boston. It’s very important to the community and I want to be as supportive as I can be.”
Stunned by the reaction, O’Halloran told the Irish Examiner: "It’s surreal, unbelievable. I’m really surprised and glad that the Irish in Boston think my story is something they can get behind."
Runners led by Galway man Michael Cloherty have completed three marathons in three weeks on Katie’s behalf, in Connemara, London and Boston.
Cloherty explained to the paper: “I was doing it for a huge cause. If I was just doing it for myself there would have been days I wouldn’t have bothered. But it was for Katie. We grew up near each other, our families know each other – that took the difficulty out of it.”
The fund-raising embraced by the Irish American community in Boston will change Katie’s life forever.
She added: “It will transform my life really. To be able to do small tasks like shake a person’s hand, carry a handbag, open doors. I’m just really happy so many people have put in so much effort.
“These arms will give me more independence. I’m okay when I’m inside the house, I can do everything for myself, I write and do my make-up with my foot. I can bring myself to the bathroom, but when I’m out I’m stuck. I need someone to open doors for me, bring me to the bathroom, carry bags.
“Right now I can manage most things with my foot but as I get older my leg might not be as flexible.
“I’d like to be a normal 22-year-old. Now my social life is like that of an older person, everything has to be planned out in advance. These limbs would allow me to be spontaneous.”
For more information see www.facebook.com/katieohalloranbenefit.