For Derry man Gareth McCay, completing a triathlon will mark a massive milestone in his road to recovery from paralysis.
The 29 year-old solicitor has been hailed as “inspirational” by the sports team which has helped him in his journey to fitness ahead of taking on a custom-made triathlon this morning.
Thomas McCallion, Derry City Council Community Health and Well Being Manager - who oversees the Step Up GP Referral Programme in the city - said Gareth had every reason to be very proud of his achievements so far.
“To see him at his lowest ebb and then to see him now - it’s obvious that the turnaround is not only an inspiration to Gareth but to others coming into the programme. Gareth is a shining example of what can be done with strong willpower. His progress has shown what can be achieved with strong determination and the right support and guidance. The local Step Up team of Shaun Hargan and John Paul Glen has given him great encouragement, along with Shaun Heaney and Daniel Quigley, who give up their time to volunteer to help deliver the programme.”
In 2010 Gareth McCay was told he’d never walk again after being paralysed from the neck down as a result of a freak accident in his home.
However, the keen sportsman pushed himself to a miraculous recovery over a period of more than two years and now has an “almost complete range of movement”. He is to put his tremendous progress to the test by completing a 10k arm cycle, a 15k cycle and a 400m walk at Templemore Sports Complex this morning. He is taking on the challenge to raise funds for Spinal Research to say thanks for the support he received since his accident.
“When I was in hospital there was a lot of fundraising done for me and I want to give something back. The work done by Spinal Research is brilliant and the organisation does not receive any government money so I’m trying raise as much as I can. Gareth will also host a fundraising event tonight in the Tower Hotel to support Spinal Research. Admission £7.50, all welcome. Fifteen prizes will be raffled while the entertainment lineup includes Michael Doherty, Claire McCallion and DJ Sid.