#WomenwithImpact - Maureen, Co. Roscommon

My name is Maureen Lee and I live in Athlone, Co Roscommon. This year and for the past number of years I have chosen the Irish Wheelchair Association as my charity for the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon.

I am lucky to have a close network of women who join me each year for the Women’s Mini Marathon and although Irish Wheelchair Association as our charity of choice, each of the wonderful women is participating for her own personal reasons, each has her own story.

In our group, women are of all shapes and sizes and together we are working, training and fundraising for the same cause. My job is to encourage each woman to get out and get active, even if it’s just a kilometre to start with, and then to gradually build it up as the weeks go on.

In January, I collect all the information I need from the ladies to register us as a group. In March, I circulate the sponsorship cards and organise transport for the day. On the morning of the Women’s Mini Marathon, hail, rain or snow, we head off for a fun and exciting day.

We have an early start from Irish Wheelchair Association’s Resource and Outreach Centre in Athlone, but thankfully transport and goodie bags containing necessary supplies for the day are provided by the organisation.

On route, we stop for breakfast and on the way home, all tired and hungry, we enjoy a meal. We like to look after our lovely ladies, so they feel valued and appreciated and so that they know the value of their contribution to the Irish Wheelchair Association.

In Dublin, we eagerly wait at the starting point along with the thousands of other women and when that bell goes, we get into pace taking kilometre by kilometre. Once we have started, we know we need to keep going until we see the 10km signpost.

Taking part feels amazing. I love hearing encouragement from people in the streets and the other women taking part for their own special intentions and charities. Coming towards the finishing line, no matter how tired I feel, I always get a rush of energy and dash across that finishing line to collect my well-earned medal with pride.

Irish Wheelchair Association is an organisation close to my heart having experienced first-hand the difficulties and struggles with a family member with physical needs. My niece, Shauna has been an active member of the Irish Wheelchair Association “Sunshine Club” in Athlone for the past ten years.

Meeting once a month, children with physical and sensory disabilities come together through activities such as cinema trips, bowling, shopping and community links.

Over the years I realised how isolated Shauna was when we visited local amenities. A trip to the park would leave her isolated, sitting in her wheelchair, while other kids got to run around and avail of all the equipment within the park.

With research and the help of the Athlone Irish Wheelchair fundraising team, we were able to purchase and install a double wheelchair swing and a mixed ability roundabout within the community to facilitate children of all abilities for social inclusion.

It gave me great satisfaction that Irish Wheelchair Association had faith in me to help bring this project to fruition and to know that monies raised from the Women’s Mini Marathon went towards this wonderful project.

About my Chosen Charity:
Irish Wheelchair Association

Not only does Irish Wheelchair Association work with, and on behalf of, people with physical disabilities, they also provide a range of services which include assisted living services, which provides personal assistance to individuals in their homes and communities to support community participation, access to education, employment and improved quality of life. They also run community centres in over 57 locations throughout the country.

I am particularly attached to the Athlone centre, which is very active with wonderful social interaction for all our members. The centre offers numerous activities such as educational and recreational programmes designed to facilitate personal development and interaction with the local community and to provide a service that is flexible and tailored to each individual, so that they can enjoy equal rights, choices and opportunities.

Triona Driscoll