Catherine Flood will be one in fifty thousand.
And she will be running for her one in a million special sister.
Catherine will be stepping off Sunday morning in the New York City Marathon, along with roughly fifty thousand fellow marathoners.
And like so many in the great race, she will be channeling all the effort and pain it takes to train for the 26.2 mile epic into a noble cause.
In this case, the cause is a special needs center 114 marathons, or roughly 3,000 miles away, in County Monaghan.
“This year my beautiful and special sister Eileen turned forty, and what a celebration it was for Eileen and all our family to see her reach this milestone,” said Catherine, who lives in Yonkers.
“Eileen is in remarkably good health, despite the fact that as a Down’s Syndrome girl she has had multiple complicated health conditions since she was born.
“A major factor in her well-being is the Errigal Truagh Special Needs Centre located in County Monaghan. This is a local, voluntary run, day activation center for adults with special needs.”
According to Catherine, it is thanks to the center that Eileen is picked up by bus each morning, has a personal development plan, receives specialized medical support, has developed a network of friends, is involved in activities such as road bowls, swimming and art, and is part of an organization which places special needs adults at the heart of her community.
Continued Catherine: “Over the past year, Errigal Truagh Special Needs Centre has been in the process of constructing a new purpose-built center for adults with special needs.
“This new building will greatly enhance the experience of existing service users while affording access to other adults to avail of the service.”
The building, she said, includes a dedicated multi-sensory room for children and adults with autism.
“The center could not have been built without the overwhelming support and fundraising efforts from the local community, and donors worldwide,” said Catherine.
But the center will have to continue with its fundraising efforts in order to provide continuous services and expand programs.
And it is to aid this fundraising that will have Catherine embarking on her Sunday morning odyssey through the five boroughs of New York City.
“I am excited to run all 26.2 miles of the New York City Marathon in honor of my sister, and to support this new venture at Errigal Truagh Special Needs Centre which will enrich her life in future years,” said Catherine.
Catherine is appealing for whatever support people can give by donating to her “Catherine Runs for Special Needs” fund, “this so my sister Eileen and all present and future users can avail of this service.”
Anyone who wishes to donate can go to Catherine’s GOFUNDME PAGE, gofundme.com/2pc95wcc, or mail a check payable to Errigal Truagh Special Needs, c/o Catherine Flood, 184 Alta Vista Drive, Yonkers, NY 10710.
This story first appeared in the Irish Echo. To read more articles, visit their website here.