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  • Northside East

Neil’s on track for a brighter future

Tuesday, 31st May, 2016 8:00am

Story by Pat O'Rourke
Neil’s on track for a brighter future

INSPIRATIONAL: Neil Hoey on the Morton Stadium track. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Neil’s on track for a brighter future

INSPIRATIONAL: Neil Hoey on the Morton Stadium track. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

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A CAMPAIGN that aimed to raise €10,000 for a running blade for a Northside teenager, who had to have his leg amputated following a cancer diagnosis, has been a huge success.  

In 2011, Neil Hoey, from Beaumont, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Aged just 11, he had to have his left leg amputated above the knee.

However, through sheer determination, Neil, a keen sportsperson, has overcome the setback.

Alan O’Neill, Neil’s Geography teacher at St Aidan’s CBS, was so inspired by his student’s positivity that he established the campaign to purchase the blade. 

Last October, ‘Team Neil’ entered the Dublin City Marathon with Alan among the runners taking part. The reaction to the campaign was phenomenal and they easily exceeded their target. 

Neil, in the company of friends, family and school colleagues, recently unveiled the new running blade at Morton Stadium, Santry, the home of Irish athletics. 

“The day went really well and much better than I could have expected,” he told Northside People. “It was nerve-wracking though because there was such a big crowd there. 

“Having this blade will open up a lot of doors for me. I’ve already played amputee football for Ireland but I’ll now be able to try out other sports like athletics and one day I would love to run a marathon. 

“My school, St Aidan’s, have been really good to me and my aim is to repay them by taking part in a schools’ sports event, maybe a race if that’s possible.”

Ottobock, a German company, made the parts for the blade and they were shipped over to Ireland. Independent Disablement Services Ltd, a company based at Cappagh Hospital in Finglas, assembled the parts.   

Neil (16), who has just completed Transition Year, said the campaign went “amazingly well”. 

“It really opened my eyes to the goodwill of people not just from the Northside but from all over the country,” he said.

Neil believes his positive outlook has helped him through his illness. 

“I hope my story will show other amputees that losing a limb does not have to be the end of their sporting ambitions,” he added. 

Alan O’Neill said they were inundated with generosity from around the country for the campaign. 

“Myself and Neil were just blown away by the public’s response and support,” he said. 

“We had local businesses getting on board; bake sales in school; our second years donated this year’s sponsored walk money to Neil; a portion of our annual Transition Year Christmas card sale was given to the project; and staff in the school took part in ‘Hell and Back’ to raise funds.

“All this coupled with donations from the public have helped us to pass the target.

“A lot of people took it upon themselves to organise a coffee morning, a bake sale or sponsored run. They were enthralled by Neil’s story, his energy and determination.”

Now that they have the blade, the “real work” begins, according to Alan.  

“Neil is now looking forward to his summer holidays but not before he does a 26km trek across the Wicklow Way as part of his Gaisce Award,” he added. 

“Then it’s time to get on track and burn rubber!”

•Through Northside People, Neil Hoey and Alan O’Neill would sincerely like to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the campaign or helped out in any way, and to Clonliffe Harriers Athletic Club who facilitated the May 20 event.

 

Students from St Aidan’s CBS support Neil Hoey during his Blade Run at Morton Stadium, Santry. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

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