Watch as Derry ‘hero’ Niall Walks for Duchenne

Niall O’Doherty, 15, walked 2.7 miles from the Bay Road playing fields to the Peace Bridge on Saturday in aid of Action Duchenne.

Niall was diagnosed with a rare, life-limiting illness called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) when he was just a baby. DMD is a genetic disease that primarily affects boys and causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.

Niall’s mum Deborah said: “My whole world was turned upside down when we got Niall’s diagnosis. A year later, myself and my husband Kevin decided we needed to shake ourselves and do something. So, we started fundraising. I’ve been fundraising ever since for a charity in London called Action Duchenne. I’ve thrown my whole life and soul into that charity. I haven’t stopped and I haven’t wanted any recognition for it because I’m doing it for Niall and the other children with Duchenne. Duchenne is 100% fatal. A the minute, there is no cure but every penny that we raise goes directly into research for Niall’s condition in the hope that, one day, they’ll find a cure.”

Deborah is in awe of her son and everything he has achieved so far. She says he never lets anything hold him back and has such a positive outlook on life. Even when he had to wake up at 3am to go to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne for treatment, Deborah says he never once complained.

Fifteen-year-old Niall O’Doherty pictured with mayor Sandra Duffy family, extended family and supporters before setting off on his walk, on Saturday morning, from Bay Road to the Peace Bridge, to raise money for Action Duchenne Photo: George Sweeney. DER2232GS – 045

She said: “Niall goes to mainstream school and he doesn’t use his wheelchair there, even though the advice of the doctors is to take it and use it when he needs a rest. He’s so proud, he just keeps battering on. He struggles to get up stairs, coming down isn’t so hard but he struggles to get in and out of the car too.”

Kevin has completed numerous marathons to raise money and awareness for Duchenne while Deborah does the fundraising. They were both surprised to come home one day to hear Niall’s fundraising idea.

Deborah said: “Myself and Kevin went out one night and when we came back, Niall had it up on his Instagram page that he was going to do a 2.7 mile walk. We were told that Niall would be in a wheelchair by the time he was eight and that he would never be on his feet, so I was so worried that he wouldn’t be able to do it but he is so determined.”

Niall is a massive Derry City Football fan and he loves Man United. He was ‘delighted’ to receive a message from Derry footballer James McClean in support of his walk.

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Fifteen-year-old Niall O’Doherty pictured Mayor Sandra Duffy and his family, dad Kevin, mum Deborah, Ciara, Eimear and Oran before setting off on his walk, on Saturday morning, from Bay Road to the Peace Bridge, to raise money for Action Duchenne. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2232GS – 040

“ “As well as raising money, my biggest aim is to raise awareness of children with Duchenne. People are not aware of DMD, as it only affects one in every 2,500 boys. I only know a handful of people between here and Belfast who have or had children with Duchenne. It is life limiting, their life expectancy is between 19 and 20. I don’t look at that any more because a bit of my heart breaks every day. I just try to live in the now. Niall is such an inspiration to me. He is so funny and he’s the life and soul of this house. He keeps us all going. He’s just fantastic. The way he looks at his condition is just inspirational. Niall is just amazing.”

Niall’s fundraiser https://gofund.me/6d7209e1

Niall taking it all in his stride.

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Fifteen-year-old Niall O’Doherty pictured with mayor Sandra Duffy family, extended family and supporters before setting off on his walk, on Saturday morning, from Bay Road to the Peace Bridge, to raise money for Action Duchenne Photo: George Sweeney. DER2232GS – 045