‘Absolute legend’ priest has been praised for fundraising

by Rebecca Ryan
Fr Tony was recently recognised for his life’s achievements by UCD

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) has announced they are now able to hire a fourth nurse because of fundraising efforts by a very special Mount Merrion priest, Tony Coote. 

In March 2018, Fr Tony (54) was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

One person in Ireland dies every three days from MND. It is a progressive neurological condition that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord, which means that messages gradually stop reaching the muscles, leading to weakness and wasting.

When Fr Tony received the diagnosis, he said: “Like others who have received such news I was terrified, and my body went into shock.

“Around this time someone asked to remember that, ‘the diagnosis is not the prognosis’. I have repeated that in my head as a mantra every day.

“I have also committed myself to living each day, looking to the future and choosing to live rather than exist.”

Speaking on what encouraged him to set up Walk While You Can, the Dublin Diocese priest in Kilmacud and Mount Merrion parishes said: “Rather than just complaining about these facts I want to use my time and my voice to do something about it.”

Shortly after his diagnosis, Fr Tony decided to walk the length of Ireland to raise funds for Irish Motor Neurone Disease Foundation and Research Motor Neurone.

Walk While You Can was born, and Fr Tony set out to walk 550 kilometres from Letterkenny to Ballydehob last summer.

When July came, he had already lost the ability to walk, but determined he covered the journey in a wheelchair.

The event was a huge success and as a result the IMNDA are now able to hire a fourth nurse to help people living with Motor Neurone Disease.

Chief executive of IMNDA, Roisin Duffy, told Dublin Gazette he is an “absolute legend.”

“We’re going to be able to get a fourth which is brilliant. We’re absolutely over the moon.

“What Fr. Tony has achieved in the last few months is remarkable, and we are blown away by his bravery and his sheer determination to help other people living with Motor Neurone Disease.

“He has given a voice to so many and highlighted the challenges posed by this devastating disease on a daily basis.”

Ms Duffy said that Fr Tony was “so happy” to hear that the IMNDA are able to hire a fourth nurse.

“On Friday night he said [it] was the best news he’s had all year. He’s really seeing the value of what he’s done.”

The outreach nursing service, which is funded entirely from public donations, helps over 370 patients in Ireland spread across 26 countries.

Fr Tony was also recently recognised for his life’s achievements by UCD, where he was Chaplin to the College of Science, and was conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Science by the University.

Walk While You Can raised a total of €550,000 with the proceeds being divided between the IMNDA and Research Motor Neurone.

For information on how to give, visit www. idonate.ie/walkwhileyoucan[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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