A local mum is stepping up for a mini marathon challenge in support of a charity that makes positive steps in Donegal.

Angela Gallagher from Gaoth Dobhair has set her sights on the 2020 Vhi Mini Marathon to raise money for the No Barriers Foundation.

Angela’s daughter Mary, who suffered a back injury as a teenager, has been learning to walk again with the support of No Barriers and the family are keen to give back.

The No Barriers Foundation, based in Letterkenny, helps anyone with stroke, spinal injury, MS or any neurological disorder to overcome barriers to exercise and physical therapy. Their services have proven to be a game-changer for Mary who has availed of exoskeleton therapy and physiotherapy with the specialist team.

Mary Gallagher doing walking therapy with the No Barriers Exoskeleton

Mary, aged 19, has had many challenges throughout her teenage years.

Angela explains: “Mary injured her back in 2014. She has had two surgeries to remove discs that were pressing on nerves. As a result of the nerve being damaged, Mary lost the power in her right leg and has had to relearn to walk again.

“No Barriers has really been a game-changer for Mary and the support and guidance she has received from the team has been incredible!

“They’ve given her back her independence, strength and the ability to walk and for that we’re forever grateful!”

Mary now walks with a splint on her leg, but the sessions at No Barriers have helped her make remarkable progress. Mary does gait therapy with the exoskeleton – a revolutionary robotic suit which helps people with disabilities or limited mobility to stand up and walk.

Angela said “She is so much stronger now. People that hadn’t seen her in a while were commenting that she’s walking more normally. Mary would say it was lovely to get that independence to feel you can walk again, to get that get-up and go.”

No Barriers has also motivated Mary to look beyond any barriers she felt her injury presents.

“A few years ago, Mary’s hopes of being a nurse were low. Now, she’s hoping to go on and do her nursing, a lot of credit would have to go to No Barriers,” Angela said.

Angela has decided to raise money for No Barriers by walking the 10K virtual Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon in October. The group is reliant on fundraising and donations to continue offering their low-cost services and with fundraising greatly impacted by Covid-19, they are in need of support now more than ever.

You can visit Angela’s GoFundMe fundraising page here: https://gf.me/u/yxwg8t

Angela plans to fundraise right up to 10th October before she sets off on her walk around her home area of Gaoth Dobhair.

This year’s Vhi Mini Marathon is taking the virtual route as women all over Ireland are invited to Live Life to the Power of 10, completing the 10k event “their way” over the course of 10 days next month.