Time is running out for a paralysed Cork man to raise funds to keep a vital robotic exoskeleton in Ireland.
Nathan Kirwan, 26, who is 85% paralysed, began a 55,000-step challenge in May in an attempt to raise €150,000 to ensure the life-changing device is retained here.
The exoskeleton, aptly named Lazarus, is the only one available for public use in this country and allows wheelchair-users to stand up and move in a walking motion, thus gaining the benefits of walking.
Mr Kirwan took part in an important trial in Barcelona of this state-of-the-art exoskeleton.
It is now located in the Elite Gym in Cork, and others have also travelled to the city to make use of it.
However, to ensure that the exoskeleton remains here, a total of €150,000 must be raised.
Mr Kirwan, supported by the gym, began the ‘Walk With Me Challenge’ in early summer in an effort to raise enough funds for the project.
He will finish his journey at the Helpful Steps Inaugural Charity Ball in Cork City Hall this Saturday, October 10.
As well as giving him the ability to walk, Mr Kirwan says Lazarus has helped him to lead a more independent lifestyle.
“This is not necessarily about walking; this is about getting strong, keeping healthy and improving independence.
“Able-bodied people must be active to maintain a healthy body and mind. This is also true for wheelchair- users.”
Mr Kirwan severed his spinal cord in a fall in June 2013 which left him paralysed from the chest down.
However, he has been able to use this advanced exercise device to get the benefits of walking.
The exoskeleton can also be used by those suffering from the effects of stroke or multiple sclerosis.
Owner of the Elite Gym Colin O’Shaughnessy said those who work in the facility were delighted to be a part of Mr Kirwan’s journey.
“We have an open environment where everyone, no matter their injury or disability, can train and improve their quality of life together.
“We greatly appreciate Skechers Ireland helping us keep this project going.”
Skechers Ireland representative Paul Gallagher also said the specialised footwear company was thrilled to be supporting Mr Kirwan on his ‘Walk With Me Challenge’.
“Nathan is a remarkable young man and a huge inspiration, having shown tremendous strength and commitment to undertake the 55,000 step challenge. We wish him the very best and are honoured to be helping him in his journey.”
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