By Gordon Deegan (Photo: Eamon Ward)
A 23-year old Barefield woman with cerebral palsy is set to go through the pain barrier to complete a ‘virtual’ Dublin City Marathon in order to help plug the funding gap for children with special needs at a local clinic.
Nicole Norton has gone through “at least 50 operations” during her life and requires four doses of morphine each day to manage her pain and allow her function.
The cancellation of the annual Dublin City Marathon due to Covid 19 has robbed the Clare Crusaders Clinic of its main annual fundraiser.
The service was established by Nicole’s mother Ann Norton and other parents of children with special needs in 2005 and today a clinic in Barefield outside Ennis provides a range of therapies for free to around 450 children on the clinic’s books.
Last year, around 80 Clare Crusader runners were on the start line in Dublin and since 2005, the runners have raised around €750,000 for the clinic which requires around €250,000 per year to operate.
However, this year, Nicole – who is also visually impaired and is a wheelchair user – and a small group of Crusader runners are going to complete the ‘virtual’ Dublin City marathon around on roads and tracks around Ennis in order to some way plug the funding gap.
Nicole will complete the 26.2 miles on her wheelchair over a number of days at the end of the month before ending her marathon at the Clare Crusaders Clinic accompanied by some of the children receiving therapies at the clinic.
Nicole has benefited from the therapies funded by the runners at the clinic over the years. She stated this week: “For me it is a way of giving back for what I got when I was a young one.”
Ann stated that the training has given Nicole “a great focus. We are delighted she is doing it.” She stated: “Nicole is out everyday training at the track at Lees Rd no matter what the weather.”
Ann stated that Nicole is taking on the marathon challenge after going through “at least 50 operations” during her 23 years.
She stated: “Nicole had her first operation when she was seven or eight weeks old and it is two or three operations every year since.”
Ms Norton stated: “Nicole is in constant pain, there is never a day Nicole isn’t in pain. Nicole is on morphine now, every day four times a day and that is just so that she can function. It is not something we would have liked but we don’t have a choice.”
“The pain Nicole is in is chronic and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Nicole currently has a dislocated shoulder and she stated: “When I got out training, if I go over a bump, my shoulder pops out but I just keep going and get through the pain.”
On one training day this week, Nicole completed 50 laps at Lees Rd’s running track.
She laughs when she says: “When I meet people there and tell them I am doing the marathon, they look at me as if I have ten heads.”
Nicole does volunteer work at the clinic where she provides counselling and she said: “I live for the clinic and that is why I want to do something to make sure that the clinic stays open.”
The clinic has been shut down temporarily due to Covid 19 and is planning to bring in its first group of children next week.
She stated: “I am doing this to raise funds and hopefully, it will bring money in. I’m doing it for the kids.”
One of the runners aiming to complete the ‘virtual’ marathon, Pat Bogue said that what helps motivate him to do it is “to honour the children and families who benefit from the clinic and keep the marathon tradition going for the future”.
Link to funding page https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/clare-crusaders-virtual-marathon-challenge