"Thanks to them, I’m back in college training to be a nurse, something that without their help and support wouldn’t have been possible."

The No Barriers Foundation in Donegal is stepping into Christmas with a Walkathon fundraiser.

The Letterkenny-based non-profit organisation breaks down barriers to rehabilitation and exercise for people with disabilities in the North West.

Today they will be breaking down another barrier when they turn their favourite festive fundraiser into a virtual event on Facebook.

All day, inspirational No Barriers exercisers will be using a state-of the-art exoskeleton to complete a 6,000 step walkathon in the No Barriers Centre at Mountain Top Letterkenny.

The six participants are all weekly users of the exoskeleton suit and are undergoing specialist community rehab for conditions such as spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.

The No Barriers Centre in Letterkenny, where Mary Gallagher (pictured right) is walking in the Exoskeleton

Walkathon participant Ciara Devenney was using a wheelchair this time last year, but this Christmas she is back on her feet after making remarkable progress with No Barriers.

Having sustained injuries in a car accident, 32-year-old Ciara, from Annagry, came to No Barriers with just a flicker of movement in her right leg.

In 2020 No Barriers have helped me more than I could have imagined they have helped me gain some of my independence back.

Ciara Devenney
Ciara Devenney

She trained in the exoskeleton suit for a number of months, now she has progressed to a variety of specialised rehab equipment and physiotherapy.

Ciara says: “When I came out of hospital there was no plan.

“It was such a relief when I found out about No Barriers, it couldn’t believe there was somewhere I could go for help.

“Only for them, I would still be sitting in the chair.”

No Barriers Exercise Therapist David Hone, Service User Mary Gallagher and No Barriers Lead Physiotherapist Stephen Mc Nally get into the Christmas spirit for the Walkathon fundraiser on 10th December

Mary Gallagher, aged 19, has also been stepping closer to her goals with No Barriers.

No Barriers has been a game-changer for the young Gaoth Dobhair woman, who suffered a back injury as a teenager and lost the power in her right leg. She has been learning to walk again with exoskeleton therapy and physiotherapy with the team of in-house physiotherapists and exercise therapists.

“No Barriers has helped me strengthen my body and get me healthy and strong enough to go back to college to do my nursing course. They’ve given me back so much confidence and self esteem that I’d lost and given me the belief that I can do anything I set my mind to,” Mary says.

“Thanks to them, I’m back in college training to be a nurse, something that without their help and support wouldn’t have been possible.”

Another Walkathon Participant will be Rose McNulty from Donegal Town

Rose McNulty from Donegal Town adds: “I find No Barriers very helpful for my MS. I was delighted they were able to open again after lockdown. I missed my exercise big time. There’s nothing else like it in the North West, and here we have the highest incidence of MS in Ireland.”

The No Barriers Walkathon will be shared online via The No Barriers Foundation Facebook page to adhere to current guidelines, with the public invited to support the event by sponsoring walkers on GoFundMe (Click Here).

Every person who donates will be entered into a draw for the chance to win a Christmas hamper generously sponsored by Kelly’s Centra Mountain Top.

Find out more about The No Barriers Foundation on www.nobarriers.ie