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Laois woman named as Ireland’s Inspirational Hero in second ever Gala Retail Awards

Aisling and Niall Donoher with son Dan

Following a nationwide search to uncover Ireland’s most inspirational people, Aisling Donoher from Ballybrittas, is celebrating after being named an Inspirational Hero in the Gala Retail and Virgin Media Inspiration Awards.

Aisling is the proud parent of Dan, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic neuromuscular disease for which there is no cure in Ireland or the rest of Europe.

Earlier this year Aisling and her husband Niall, both former Laois footballers, set up the Do It For Dan campaign, to raise money for life-saving treatment.

The campaign was launched just as the nation went into lockdown and despite this, they raised over €3million.

In June, Aisling sadly announced that Dan had fallen ill with a virus which now means that he cannot avail of the transfusion treatment he was meant to undergo.

She then pledged €1 million of the funds raised for her son to another young child, Olivia Mulhern so that she can have the treatment Dan was meant to have.

There are currently several children in Ireland who also suffer with SMA type 1.

A large portion of the funds raised will be divided fairly among SMA type 1 children for their families to provide them with the best possible care and give them the best quality of life that they can achieve along with a portion going to the SMA Ireland to help support all SMA sufferers.

The remaining funds will be used to provide Dan with the best possible health care, support, and facilities that he will require due to his condition.

As gene therapy is continually developing and evolving a large portion of the funds will be held in reserve should a treatment become available in Dan’s lifetime that can see his condition improved or possibly reversed.

Failing this the funds will be released to support additional SMA type 1 sufferers, research and pre-screening for children in Ireland.

Inspirational people from across Ireland were nominated for the Gala Retail and Virgin Media Inspiration Awards, with 26 inspirational county heroes being named from the hundreds of entries received.

Each of the 26 award-winning heroes demonstrated how they have made Ireland a better place with their selfless acts and inspirational deeds during the Covid-19 crisis, and how they have gone above and beyond for others in their local community.

Commenting on the quality of the entries, Gary Desmond, CEO of Gala Retail comments: “This year Gala Retail teamed up with Virgin Media for the Inspiration Awards as we wanted to deliver a national platform to shine a light on and reward the amazing people who have become true heroes during life under lockdown and who are making a real difference to Irish society.

“2020 has been hugely difficult for everyone however, it has also demonstrated the immense community spirit that exists within Irish communities.

“Operating in communities throughout Ireland, Gala Retailers have seen first-hand some of the great work that people have been doing and we are proud to have been able to recognise some of these inspirational individuals.

“We were overwhelmed by the level of nominations we received and Aisling along with the fellow inspirational heroes are true examples of people who are making Ireland a better place for us all.”

2020 marks the second year of the Gala Retail Inspiration Awards created as a way of celebrating the selfless acts and inspirational deeds of people in Ireland who are making the country a better place.

Gala Retail has gifted €20,000 of prizes to the winners, with 26 county winners being awarded with luxury stays in some of Ireland’s most beautiful Blue Book properties.

Congratulations Aisling!

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