DONEGAL people living with a disability are being given the chance to fulfil their dreams with a life-changing ‘Opportunity Fund.’
The Opportunity Fund with Donegal Centre for Independent Living (DCIL) enables people with disabilities to achieve a lifelong goal they may not have been able to access without some additional support and financial contribution.
On Wednesday, Buncrana woman Jennifer Doherty, who is blind from birth, successfully climbed to Mount Everest base camp thanks to assistance from the DCIL Opportunity Fund.
Jennifer flew out to Kathmandu on April 27 and began the climb, led by Letterkenny’s Jason Black. The climb took around 10 days.
Jennifer has been receiving a Personal Assistant service from DCIL for fifteen years and during her climb, she has been raising awareness of the centre and the work they do for the people of Donegal.
The DCIL opportunity fund was established last year and this is the second round of the fund open to applicants.
DCIL is the leading provider of Personal Assistant services in Donegal with a major focus on independent living.
So far, nine people have benefited from the fund and activities have included trips to a rugby match, concerts, the use of driving stimulators and surfing lessons.
Portnoo man Paul Dawson, who suffers from MS, has been using a wheelchair for around 10 years. Despite this, Paul’s love for adventure remains and he is using the fund to fulfil his goal of paramotoring in Kildare on May 20, weather permitting.
In his younger years, Paul enjoyed doing Parashoot jumps and he is delighted the fund is providing him with the opportunity to fulfil another goal.
Speaking to the Donegal News he said, “Paramotoring is something I have wanted to do for a very long time but the fund really pushed me to do it and I am so grateful for that.
“Disability is a disability but I am a firm believer that it can hold you back as much or as little as you let it.
“To be given this opportunity is unbelievable and without the fund, I have no doubt that I would not be able to do it.
“It is such a positive experience for people who thought achieving their goals was not possible,” said Paul.
CEO of DCIL Rosaleen Doherty said the fund is about expanding opportunities for Donegal people who may not have been able to fulfil their goals without this financial assistance.
Ms Doherty said all funds raised for the organisation remains within Donegal and is used to help local people throughout the county.
“This fund is a chance for us to give back more outside of the personal assistance that we provide on a daily basis to the people of Donegal.
“It is fantastic to see people like Paul and Jennifer achieving goals which may not have been possible without this fund.
“It encourages people to take on tasks and adventures that they may not have been able to complete otherwise,” said Ms Doherty.
The fund has been financed for three years, but, DCIL is appealing to people to consider the fund as a beneficiary for any fundraising event or charitable donations so their work can continue in the future.
Ms Doherty continued, “All donations are very welcome and they will be put to use within the county.
“All donations for the opportunity fund will be used for the fund rather than being used to provide services.
“If more donations are received, it means more people can benefit from this fund and achieve their goals,” said Ms Doherty.
l For more information, visit http://www.donegalcil.com/ or Donegal Centre for Independent Living on Facebook.