14-year-old Sean Byrnes, born without use of his lower limbs, was one of thousands who completed the Great Limerick Run, Sunday.
Heroic Sean, who has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, as well as a curved spine, used a specially adapted hand-peddle trike to complete the 10km event in 63 minutes flat.
“It felt great, and the weather was lovely, so it made it better. The support along the way was excellent,” said Sean, who knocked eight minutes off his 2018 finish time.
“This is my fifth 10km. I’ll do a sixth one and keep going,” he added.
Sean, from Caherconreafy, Co Limerick, is aiming to set up Limerick’s first ever hand-trike club for young people and adults with similar physical conditions.
Through the Mid West Spina Bifida Association, he has set up an online fundraising drive to raise an initial €10,000 to purchase five hand-trikes which cost between €1,500-€4,000 each.
“He’s a remarkable young man with loads of zest for life,” beamed Sean’s father, John Byrnes.
“We want to raise the funds so that others can get out and experience what Sean has experienced, and what it has done for him and his confidence,” Mr Byrnes added.
Sean and his family live by a simple motto they call “ATAP - All Things Are Possible”.
His bike is “excellent” and allows him “to be able to get out, and be with other people”.
Sean’s mother, Fiona, who ran alongside him in today’s race described her son’s bike as his “lifeline”.
“Every child wants to go on a bike, and if we didn’t get this bike five years ago we wouldn't be here today, we wouldn't have done this five years in a row. Sean has so much fun on the bike and he can also take it onto the beach. It brings oxygen to us as a family, we can breathe easier,” Mrs Byrnes said.
Around 13,000 men women and children took part in the the Great Limerick Run, marathon, half-marathon and 10km events.
Sr Alan Connors, Sr Peter Clarke, and Sr Nigel Waters, all form Limerick, all wore their habits for the race.
Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy, who watched on from the crowd, said he was inspired to possibly don his runners and take part in 2020: “I thought I might do it this year. I wouldn’t go for the big marathon, but maybe I’ll run the 10km. I turn 60 next year, so, next year I might do it.”
Tracy O’Donoghue, a tutor with the Institute of Massage and Sports Therapy led a team of 37 student masseuses “offering a post event treatment” for all those feeling the effects of their efforts.
“It’s a massive opportunity for our students to get a practical aspect of what they are learning in class,” she added.