By Aine McDonnell

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.”  This is a quote that has always struck a chord with me because for me it is one of the truest quotes I have ever read.

This quote is most true to life with me because it describes how I feel about being a member of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA). This wonderful organisation has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I consider many of the friends I have made through my involvement in the IWA as my second family or even an extension of my own family.

I receive many services from the Irish Wheelchair Association including respite services, transport, my fantastic PA services and not forgetting the incredible service that I receive from our local Resource and Outreach Centre in Belmullet. I am also involved in the IWA Media Group which has been amazing for me and empowered me to become more confident especially in public speaking and writing. All of these services and the people I have been lucky to meet through receiving these services have helped me to grow as a person. I have grown in confidence and I have realised I am able to do so much more than I ever thought possible including preparing to move into my own purpose built home in the next few months. I have been incredible anxious about the move and have doubted my capability to manage on my own but I have received amazing encouragement from the fantastic staff of IWA and I am now looking forward to the move. Even though it will be daunting and scary at first I will succeed and I will have what I have always wanted independence and my own space.

The IWA ran their biggest annual fundraising drive which is our Angels campaign during the month of November

The Angels campaign is in its 15th year this year and every year it keeps getting better.  The funds raised during this campaign go towards providing vital services for people with physical and sensory disabilities all around Ireland, services which empower and enrich the lives of the people who use them. This is particularly significant for me in my day to day living. During the month of November staff members and volunteers ran events and took to the streets selling our Angels which were also available in shops. This year four newly designed Angels were introduced along with the Angel car air freshener. We also had pencils, and activity packs for the kids.  All of products cost just €2 and the proceeds will go towards keeping all of our services which are so important to me and many other members of the Association going nationwide.  So if you bought an Angel or donated via our text number Thank You for “Being an Angel, and Buying an Angel!” and helping Irish Wheelchair Association to continue helping me and others like me to grow and develop and to live the lives we deserve.

Dermot Bannon with IWA member Michael Stokes
Dermot Bannon with IWA member Michael Stokes

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